Disney World wish granted for 3-year-old cancer survivor


Magnolia – At the age of three, Kaylynn Grace Sands has fought through cancer treatments with the tenacity and splendor of a warrior princess. She was surprised Monday evening to find that her wish had been granted to travel and meet her princess idols at Disney World.

Sands, of Magnolia, entered the Southern Arkansas University armory clutching her mother’s hand and a Disney sticker book. Her pink hat twinkled as she tucked her chin to her chest as the crowd cheered. As her mother explained “this party is for you,” the warrior princess soon held her chin high and shared her heart-warming smile with the crowd and posed for photos in front of the glittery Cinderella castle replica. SAU Cheerleaders paraded out for a dance dressed as famous Disney characters for the big reveal.

Anne Sands, Kaylynn’s mother and assistant director of financial aid at SAU, has been amazed at the outpouring of support by her SAU family and the area community. She said their trip is scheduled for May 22, 2016. Anne and her husband, John, are also both alums of SAU. Kaylynn’s older sister, Kendall, 13, was also right by Kaylynn’s side in support at the reveal.

This Make-A-Wish was made possible by the support of the Southwest District 4 of Arkansas Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). The 40 schools and around 1,000 students in the district increased their registration dues for the organization’s spring and fall conferences, as well as collected donations, to fund Sands’ wish, according to Will Harris, who was present for the reveal with several of his district FBLA students. He said this is the first time the Southwest District has helped grant a wish, and that the students are inspired to possibly coordinate again with Make-A-Wish.

Last summer Sands was given the news that her daughter was diagnosed with ganglioneuroblastoma, a cancer which develops in the nerve tissue. Several fundraising efforts have been held by various groups and individuals on campus. Sands and her family have been blown away by the support from the community, and especially the students.

Kaylynn recently had surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which removed about 90% of the tumor. Sands said her daughter is now declared a “cancer survivor.” She will have blood work done once a month and scans every three months for the next year, at which point the doctors will reevaluate Kaylynn’s situation.

The list of groups who have raised money or shown support to the Sands family continues to grow, and includes Sigma Pi, Phi Mu, Alpha Sigma Alpha, Harrod Hall, SAU cheerleaders, Tutoring Center, Rankin College of Business, football defensive backs, volleyball, softball, Sigma Gamma Rho, men’s basketball, and The Bray.

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