By TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER
The Bristol Central High School InterAct club welcomed Aliana Fichera on Monday.
Aliana, 13, and her mother, Tina, came to express their gratitude to the students for their fundraising efforts to aid the Make-A-Wish foundation, efforts that allowed Aliana to have her wish granted – a trip to Disney World.
“I am so honored to be here today and for speaking on behalf of Make-A-Wish,” said Aliana. “Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication, because without you, our [other Make-A-Wish recipients] dreams wouldn’t happen.”
In April, 2017, Aliana was able to watch as her wish came true. She said she most enjoyed riding the roller coasters and rides like Tower of Terror. Until then, she hadn’t been able to ride rollercoasters due to having four holes in her heart. But that didn’t stop her from taking advantage of her week long trip, and she was cleared to ride them just in time.
“I’m pretty sure you’re looking at me and thinking ‘She doesn’t look sick,’” said Aliana. “You see, I look good on the outside, but on the inside I’m having the fight of my life.”
Aliana suffers from Common Variable ImmunoDeficiency, which leaves her unable create her own antibodies. And, although she’s been battling this illness for most of her life, she wasn’t officially diagnosed until age 8. Her treatments, infusions of human plasma called IVIG, occur every four weeks. The infusions are long, she said, because she tends to get sick afterwards. She said that her last infusion was just three days before she came to BCHS, and that she was on bedrest all weekend.
But she doesn’t let her illness stop her from living her life, as she continues to be a cheerleader in her hometown of Rocky Hill, Conn.
Diana Maynard, the events manager for Make-A-Wish Connecticut, thanked the gathered Bristol students for their ongoing efforts in supporting the foundation. “I know you’ve been doing this for quite a few years,” said Maynard. “It’s one of our biggest youth fundraisers of the year, and we’re always so excited when we hear from your advisors.”
Maynard said that Make-A-Wish CT was able to grant 250 wishes last year. “It was amazing, we really count on the support of the community.”
Jacob Nelson, a senior, and president of the InterAct club said that BCHS was able to raise over $1,500 through the annual Powder Puff fundraiser. All of those funds were then donated, in order to help Make-A-Wish CT.
Aliana, joined by her parents and younger sister, stayed at the Give Kids the World Resort Village while in Florida. Maynard explained the village is a special resort where Make-A-Wish recipients and their families stay. Aliana mentioned that every day is a different theme at the village, that there are two pools and a splash pad, and that there are special villas, sort of like apartments, in which each family can stay.
“It’s amazing,” said Tina Fichera, “there are no words. You have to be there to experience it.”
Tina explained that while Aliana was able to enjoy the trip like any other 13-year-old, she younger sister was sick. But that didn’t stop the entire family from exploring all of the Disney parks, where they had a special escort and were able to use a different entrance than the other park goers, allowing them to not be forced to wait in line.