Meet the face of this year's Make-A-Wish Music Festival
CENTRAL ILLINOIS - Whether you like pop, rock, R&B or country, 9 different bands will take the stage Saturday (Sept 19) in Springfield for the 3rd annual Make-A-Wish music festival. But even though it's a fun, family event, it's the kids who face unimaginable odds every day who make it all worthwhile. This year we got to meet "the face" of the event up close in personal. And what a personality!
Until 2 years ago, 16-year old Kaylee Helton was just like any other Lincoln area high school student. Then suddenly she became deathly ill. Doctors eventually diagnosed her with a rare disease called Antiphospholipid Syndrome. "It's like super rare and basically it just like attacks the good cells in my body" Kaylee explained. Her mom, Missy Helton, says it's a struggle every day, but Kaylee's bubbly personality keeps everybody's spirits up. "The disease that she has there's no cure" said Missy. "So even though she's well managed right now, something can happen at any time."
"I still have seizures sometimes but nothing big" said Kaylee. "But it was just hard, you know, brain surgery and not having my hair." Kaylee told us she had long, thick blonde hair before her head was shaved for brain surgery. Now it's dark brown, but growing back. She also lost half a lung. All of this was very hard on Kaylee. But it was also hard on her entire family. And that's a concept that is not lost on this bright, sweet young lady. So when Make-A-Wish approached her? "My whole family went through everything" explained Kaylee. "So I didn't want to make it just about me. I wanted to do something for them, too".
Before long, six members of the Helton family were headed for the island of Oahu. "Just being on the plane to go to Hawaii I was so like "Ahhhh! We're going to Hawaii" Kaylee said with great expression, her huge bright eyes and her beautiful smile lighting up the room.
Kaylee and her mom sent us some wonderful pictures from the trip. "I loved parasailing! Ziplining was awesome!. We got convertible. Two convertible! It was so cool. We just drove all over the place with the top down jamming. And it was supposed to rain the whole time, but it only rained a little one day. But then there was this beautiful rainbow. And like you could see it from one side and it went into the ocean. It was so pretty" Kaylee said with expression, clearly showing how much she loved the trip. And although she didn't each much, she said the food was delicious. "It was so good. And the pineapple!"
When Make-A-Wish first approached Missy (a suggestion from the nurses at the hospital), she said "The thought never entered my mind. I always thought Make-A-Wish was only for children with Cancer. And she doesn't have cancer."
The best part? "It's something you can enjoy that doesn't have anything to do with being ill" said Missy. "It doesn't have anything to do with hospitals."
"It gives kids a chance to do something awesome that they probably never would have gotten to do without Make-A-Wish" Kaylee added.
"Parents get so see the smiles that they once saw before their child was sick" said Missy. "They see those smiles again and they see how wonderful the children feel when they get a wish. And that is priceless." The 3rd annual Make-A-Wish Music Festival will be this Saturday at Boondocks, 2909 North Dirksen Parkway in Springfield. There will be a Make-A-Wish motorcycle run beginning at 11:30 and you can register right there that morning at Boondocks. Then the first of 9 fantastic bands takes the stage at 2pm. The lineup continues until the wee hours of the morning. Plus there will be plenty of food, beverages and other fun, family events and contests, including a vintage car and motorcycle display. It's $10 for adults and $2 for kids and 100% of the proceeds goes to Make-A-Wish. Last year's even raised over $13,000 for the organization. For more information check out the website: http://illinois.wish.org/news-and-events/calendar-of-events/2015/esp-entertainment-3rd-annual-music-festival