Meet Rhaya…a happy seven-year-old with a million dollar smile. Born with Spina Bifida and hydrocephalus , Rhaya has faced many medical challenges in her young life, including a shunt that drains fluid from her brain, 15 surgeries, and countless doctor’s appointments.
Meet Rhaya…a happy seven-year-old with a million dollar smile. Born with Spina Bifida and hydrocephalus , Rhaya has faced many medical challenges in her young life, including a shunt that drains fluid from her brain, 15 surgeries, and countless doctor’s appointments. None of it dampens her spirit. Each time she enters the hospital she does so with a smile so infectious, everyone around her smiles too. “Rhaya enjoys life. She does not dwell on her condition and it doesn’t hinder her in any way. Her treatments will always be a part of her life. When faced with something challenging, Rhaya thinks creatively and makes it work,” her mother Danni tells us.
Through adaptive sports, Rhaya takes part in cheerleading, track, dancing, gymnastics, soccer and much more, all while “rockin’ her fabulous walker,” said Danni. “Nothing can hold her back,” she continued. And that determination was not lost on Rhaya’s physical therapist who said “Rhaya is so happy and works so hard….always with a smile.” During her therapy sessions, Rhaya met another patient…a wish kid. It was this little girl who mentioned Make-A-Wish to Rhaya and her mother, saying “I want you to be a wish kid too.” So her mother Danni made the call.
Rhaya’s medical conditions and complications easily qualified her to receive a wish, and she knew exactly what she wanted…to go to Disney World. One of Rhaya’s Wish Granters, Charity Embry, was lucky enough to talk with Rhaya about her wish. Charity said, “Rhaya is the happiest little girl you could ever meet. Her smile lights up the room. She is so filled with joy in spite of her physical challenges which makes her such an inspiration to us all. I was thrilled to be able to help grant her wish to go to Disney World.”
Upon Rhaya’s arrival, many of her favorite characters gathered to meet the girl with the million dollar smile; Anna and Elsa, Rapunzel, and Tiana, all of her favorite princesses were there. She met Santa Claus at Give Kids The World, ate ice cream whenever she wanted, and rode It’s a Small World while singing along.
It’s been three years since Rhaya’s wish to go to the Florida theme parks was granted, though her mom says it seems like just yesterday. “Our trip reminded us that love is still the strongest emotion of the human race. Many families are so focused on the day-to-day of taking care of a child with so many medical needs, related costs to keep afloat, and the emotional roller coaster of the journey. But for that moment in time, Make-A-Wish took it all away. Our family just enjoyed everything,” Danni said.
Rhaya continues to bravely and successfully tackle the challenges that come with a critical illness. And through sharing her story and participating in Walk for Wishes, she’s helping others do the same.