Eighty-six thousand dollars can buy a lot of wishes. But as little Haley, Dylan and Damon can attest, there is no price tag on making dreams come true.
On Friday, Haley, 2, and Dylan and Damon, both 4, met, and were honored by, those who sent them to various versions of the Magic Kingdom: a couple of thousand teenagers.
Students at Alta, Jordan and Brighton high schools raised $86,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, becoming the group to make the biggest difference for the foundation this year, CEO Christine Sharer said. The students presented a check to the foundation during an assembly at Brighton.
But the focus was on the children, who were given titles of princess, conductor and captain of Brighton High School. They rode through the school's gym on a golf cart, walked the red carpet with their moms and stood atop a podium where students cheered their courage in fighting cancer and cooed as the youngsters relayed their experiences.
"I'm 2," announced Haley, whose wish was to meet the princesses at Walt Disney World.
"I see Mickey," she said, but the princesses "were hiding. Why were they hiding?" she asked her mom, Marti Dumas, before launching into a pint-sized rendition of "Small World."
Little Damon, who survived liver cancer and a transplant, found one princess on his trip to Disney World.
"He went to see Hercules, but it turns out, he loves Cinderella," said his mom, Ruthann Ewing.
Dylan and his family returned Thursday night from a Disney Cruise "on Mickey's ocean," as he puts it, where he met The Mouse and swam with dolphins. He is set to complete chemotherapy in August.
"It was so nice to be with Dylan and just have fun, and try to forget what he's been through," his mother, Heather Smith, said through tears.
Students at the three schools worked to raise money through bake sales, dances, concerts and other activities, Brighton student body vice president Brinn Cannon said. Fundraising stretched from November through January
"We learned if you want to get things done, you really have to put forth the effort and not sit back and wait for money to come in," Cannon said.
"I just think it's a really good experience because our school got to come together and raise so much money," Brighton sophomore Natasha Bartel said. "I think it's showed us how much we care."
The Make-A-Wish Foundation works to grant wishes from vacations to being an honorary firefighter for children diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions. The foundation will grant about 145 wishes of Utah children this year, plus host children from other states, Sharer said. The average wish costs about $5,000."This (donation) really is going to be the thing to help us be able to serve 5 percent more," Sharer said. "These three schools are the ones who put us over the top and let us keep our promise. ... We will still be able to grant every single wish, on time."