On Wednesday afternoon, five-year-old Aileen Aguilar was dropped off at her Turlock home dressed head to toe as Elsa from the Disney movie “Frozen.” Little did she know, a playground fit for a princess would be waiting for her thanks to the Make-A-Wish foundation.
Last year, Aileen went to the doctor to try and help her older brother, who suffers from Fanconi anemia – a hematologic disorder that requires a bone marrow transplant. While being tested to see if she could be a potential donor, Aileen was diagnosed with the same condition. Doctors determined that she too would need treatment and a potential transplant herself, and in April 2016, she underwent the life-saving bone marrow transplant, remaining in the hospital for treatment until the end of May.
“They changed our life,” said Aileen’s mother, Maria Orozco. “It’s hard to know your kids need bone marrow transplants, and there are going to be things you go through that you don’t even want to do, but you have to do it.”
Since undergoing the bone marrow transplant, Aileen is doing well and is being treated at home, although under strict isolation requirements. Her family hopes to see those requirements lifted soon, as Aileen is an active child and has had difficulty adjusting to isolation.
Because of potential exposure to crowds and germs, Aileen is unable to visit the park to play. She is able to play in her home’s yard, however, so Aileen’s doctors reached out to Make-A-Wish Northeastern California and Northern Nevada in a quest to provide her with a safe and clean place to play.
Thanks to a generous donation from Blue Diamond Growers, who sponsored Aileen’s wish through the foundation’s Adopt-A-Wish program, a colossal play set constructed in her front yard awaited her when she arrived home Wednesday, complete with two yellow slides, swings and a playhouse at the bottom. Employees from Blue Diamond Growers also provided gifts for Aileen, like dolls, a barbecue set and bubbles.
Workers from Andrew Rosenbaum Construction traveled down from Pinecrest and arrived at Aileen’s house at 7 a.m. Wednesday to begin piecing together the playhouse – an all-day endeavor that was finished just in the nick of time as Aileen arrived home around 4 p.m.
“This isn’t contracted work,” said Andy Rosenbaum, adding that the construction crew often travels to different Make-A-Wish reveals, constructing playgrounds for children. “This is all for the kids.”
Aileen could hardly contain her excitement when she hopped out of the car in the driveway and saw her new playground, running first to her parents to hug them and then individually hugging and thanking each Blue Diamond Grower employee on hand for the big reveal, as well as the staff from Make-A-Wish.
“It’s always so great to see the look on the child’s face and just that pure joy, as well as the parents and the family too, because it’s a struggle for the whole family,” said Michele Flynn, director of communications for Make-A-Wish. “If we can bring some hope and joy into them, that’s what it’s all about.”