Meet nine-year-old Lauren Santora and her family.
When Lauren was four years old, her brother (pictured right center) was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, a hereditary genetic autoimmune disorder related to the small intestine that causes the sufferer to develop a severe intolerance to gluten. And so Lauren was tested, too: Positive. The Santoras knew they would adjust; they’d have to read ingredient labels, and ask for the gluten-free menu, but they knew they’d be okay.
A year passed, and Lauren and her parents visited the doctor’s office for a routine check-up. Unfortunately, the results of the five-year-old’s blood work proved to be anything but routine. Her blood sugar levels were extremely high — dangerously high. The young girl was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, and admitted to the hospital, where she remained for four days as her family learned how to cope, and how to care for Lauren’s illness.
Lauren is now nine years old, and is entirely dependent upon an insulin pump. Her blood sugar levels are monitored around the clock. I don’t know about you, but if my child had Celiac Disease and Type 1 Diabetes, I’d be tempted to enclose her in a perma-bubble. But the Santoras know their daughter as “tough, sporty girl who loves to play ice hockey, and who has been on a team since she was two.”
That tough, sporty girl has been through a lot in her short life, and when asked if she had one wish, it was this: To meet hockey superstar and Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin. And meet him, she did. Thanks to Kids Wish Network (…where dreams really do come true).
Lauren and her family came to Washington, DC last week from their home in Norwalk, Connecticut, where the Kids Wish Network put them up at the Mandarin Oriental hotel.
Kids Wish Network made Lauren Santora’s dream come true, and we helped. US Sedan Service provided complimentary transportation for the Santora family as they spent a celebratory weekend in our nation’s capital.
Unhindered by her chronic illness, Lauren suited up in her very own, personalized Capitals jersey, and hit the ice with Ovechkin and his hockey brethren for a practice she’s not soon to forget.
“That was really fun,” said Lauren Santora.