If you granted a teenager one wish, he or she most likely would ask for the latest technological gadget or maybe for a chance to meet a favorite band or sports team. But Alondra Hernandez of Merced is a practical thinker. All she wanted was a bed of her own.
Hernandez, 17, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the blood, in May 2014. She had struggled with a cough and swollen tonsils for some time, and after being treated without much success in Merced, her family decided to travel to Tijuana, Mexico.
There, her parents explained, they expected to find quicker and more affordable medical care. Their daughter was hospitalized for one day, diagnosed with anemia and discharged.
On the way home from Tijuana, Hernandez fell ill. Her family rushed her to the nearest emergency room, in San Fernando, where they learned that she had leukemia. She was transferred to the UCLA Medical Center and eventually to Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera.
After several rounds of chemotherapy and an emergency gallbladder operation, Hernandez has been recovering in her south Merced home.
On Thursday, a strong and lively Hernandez visited the new Sleep Train Mattress Center in Merced, where she picked out a queen size bed as part of her Make-A-Wish dream.
She explained that she chose a bed because she currently sleeps with her younger sister.
“Sometimes we fight over space. I wanted to stretch out more in a comfortable bed,” she said.
Her parents, Benjamin and Maria Hernandez, said they could not be more grateful. “This is such a big help for us,” her father said, noting that accumulating expenses hadn’t allowed him to give his daughter the bed she had wanted for so long.
Hernandez’s bed, including sheets and pillows, totaled about $2,000, most of which Sleep Train donated, as the package exceeded Hernandez’s wish budget.
Daniel Osuna, Sleep Train’s district sales manager, said the company makes various donations, but most are part of a preset budget. However, when approached by Make-A-Wish volunteers in Merced, the company’s management team saw Hernandez’s wish as a unique situation and one they wanted to help make happen. Osuna said the mattress and bed frame should last the teenager for a decade or more.
Make-A-Wish also treated Hernandez to a shopping spree and lunch on Wednesday. A limousine picked her up at her home and took her to Vintage Faire Mall in Modesto, where she stopped by her favorite stores to pick out clothes and jewelry.
“Make-A-Wish pushes you to keep going by granting you something you didn’t think you would ever have before. ... For me it was this bed and the shopping spree,” Hernandez said.
A senior at El Capitan High School, Hernandez will remain on home study while her immune system strengthens. She visits Valley Children’s Hospital for checkups once a month.
Cora Gonzales, a volunteer with the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Merced County, said she believes there are many more children in the area who could be eligible to have a wish granted. She encouraged the parents of children with life-threatening medical conditions to apply.
The foundation’s wish-granting tradition is possible through the generosity of others, Gonzales added. In Merced County, most of the donations come from local farmers, she said. The next Make-A-Wish fundraiser in Merced will be a live auction at the county fairgrounds April 25.
To contact Make-A-Wish volunteers in Merced County, call Pam Duarte at (209) 761-3176.
Sun-Star staff writer Ana B. Ibarra can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.