A 13-year-old who was diagnosed with a rare case of ovarian cancer at age 10 used her wish granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation to hold a canned food drive that collected more than 13,000 pounds of food for the needy.
Emma Allred, of Twin Falls, Idaho, said she turned to prayer when she found out in June that she would have the opportunity through Make-A-Wish to pick anything in the world she wanted. Her siblings wanted her to choose a shopping spree or something related to video games, but Emma sought answers elsewhere.
“I was unsure what I wanted to do, so I prayed and asked the Lord and he told me to feed the homeless,” she told ABC News.
Emma, who fought through three rounds of chemotherapy and will undergo her fourth surgery for a side effect of the treatment in November, wanted her wish to involve the community. She worked with Make-A-Wish staff in Idaho and volunteers to organize an event they called “Emma’s Wish Day” in a local Twin Falls park.
Hundreds of people came to the park Oct. 1, bringing with them 13,148 pounds of food, according to Make-A-Wish Idaho. Companies and organizations such as the Albertsons grocery store chain, Clif Bar, the local fire department and city agencies also donated truckloads of food.
“I really thought it was awesome what was going on,” said Emma, who traveled to the park with her family by police escort. “It really exceeded my expectations.”
Brenda Vogt, director of program services for Make-A-Wish Idaho, said the chapter grants around 90 wishes each year and that usually just one of those is directed toward helping others as Emma's was.
“It grew into something none of us had any idea was going to happen,” Vogt told ABC News. “It was magical, and everyone was just kind of in awe of everything that was happening.”
Emma’s mom, Nina Allred, said she was “humbled” when Emma first told her what she wanted her wish to be.
“I was a little shocked, but I don’t know why because she’s always been such an eager person to help others,” said Allred, who described her daughter’s wish day as “amazing" and said she is thankful to Make-A-Wish Idaho for bringing "such joy" to Emma and her family.
Emma described herself as surprised less by the outpouring of food donations from her community than by all the attention she received on her special "Wish Day."
“I wanted to hand out food, but every time I tried someone came up and wanted to meet me,” she said. “It was mind-blowing.”