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A seriously ill British girl had her wish granted over the weekend when she rode shotgun in a hot-pink Lamborghini with “Top Gear” star Richard Hammond at the wheel.
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Emilia Palmer, 8, suffers from an unspecified, very rare lung condition that makes her reliant on constant oxygen. She made her amazingly cool request—“I wish I could ride in a pink Lamborghini driven by Richard Hammond”—through Rays of Sunshine, a charitable organization in England that’s similar to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
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"This wasn’t just any old wish," Emilia's father Julian told Yahoo Shine in an email. "This was a wish of a dying girl and I am obliged to all those involved, particularly Rays of Sunshine, in making her wish come true and for us, as a family, to have a very bright day in what have been a dark few months."
Rays of Sunshine made it happen within just a few days, getting a donated Lamborghini Aventador Roadster temporarily sprayed fuchsia for the pink-loving, speed-craving redhead. It also got Hammond, co-host of the popular BBC show about cars, onboard, and helicoptered him to a Herefordshire airport, where the striking, one-of-a-kind auto was waiting.
Hammond—known for, among other things, conducting the last Evel Knievel interview before the stuntman’s death, and for surviving a filmed high-speed crash in 2006—then drove to Emilia’s in the town of Kimbolton to deliver a surprise invitation. When she spotted it, said her father, "her eyes went like saucers and she had a big smile. It was a 'wow' moment." He added that he'd always taught his daughter that a Lamborghini was the best car in the world, and that, "when she grows up she should forget about a fancy house and instead buy a Lamborghini because every morning she’d smile when she saw it and know that she could go fast if that were the mood she were in."
The stunned tween joined Hammond for a drive through the surrounding countryside, followed by a few speedy turns around a specially shutdown runway back at the airport.
“It was a real privilege to be asked to make a contribution to such an inspiring, positive, unique and uplifting occasion,” Hammond said in a Rays of Sunshine press release. “Emilia was charming and wonderful. There was every chance she could have been shy, but she chatted nonstop. It is truly inspiring how brave people are.”
A growing handful of celebs seem to agree with Hammond, connecting with gravely ill young people through poignant meetings and songs. Over the summer, college football star Jacob Karam sang a duet with an 11-year-old leukemia patient at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, and a video of the two quickly went viral. Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Bette Midler and "Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan have all granted wishes recently. And just last month, a Philadelphia teen, hospitalized with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, was thrilled to be tweeted by Harry Styles after her friends and a handful of celebrities lobbied for the pop star to cheer her up.
Not long after her special ride, Emilia underwent a medical assessment to see if she would be an appropriate recipient for a lung transplant, Julian added. "We will know, hopefully, later this week whether she is accepted. A transplant could extend her life by as much as 10 years," he said. "Although then waiting to hear of a donor will be challenging."
Emilia’s mother, Rachel, said in a Rays of Sunshine press release, that her daughter had an incredible time. “The fact that the wish was turned around so quickly meant that she was still physically able to enjoy it. This was a fantastic day that we will all remember as a family,” she said. “It’s not until something awful happens that you get to find out how kind people can be.”
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