Lodi girl’s African sa­fari wish granted

Lodi News-Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Oula Miq­bel NEWS-SENTINEL STAFF WRITER

Lodi’s Rylie-Ann Ca­cay made a wish upon a star, and Satur­day af­ter­noon it came true.

Rylie-Ann thought she was at­tend­ing the NorCal Ken­worth com­pany pic­nic at Micke Grove Re­gional Park to dis­cuss her wishes with the Make-A-Wish Foun­da­tion. When she got there, though, she found out her wish to go on an African sa­fari had been granted.

“I was, very sur­prised. I was not ex­pect­ing any­thing. I thought I was go­ing to be talk­ing in front of adults, and I was feel­ing scared be­cause I don’t like talk­ing to adults,” said Rylie-Ann, 12.

Sara Ca­cay, Rylie-Ann’s mother said she was over­whelmed by the com­pas­sion and gen­eros­ity of NorCal Ken­worth.

“They went above and be­yond. They also gave Rylie-Ann art sup­plies and a bas­ket of cook­ing equip­ment, and a Harry Pot­ter cook­book,” Sara said. “You could tell they took a gen­uine in­ter­est in who Rylie-Ann is.”

NorCal Ken­worth has even ar­ranged for Rylie-Ann to ap­pear on chef Scott Leysath’s cook­ing show, “Dead Meat,” which airs on the Sports­man Chan­nel.

Dur­ing the pic­nic, Sara said she was as­tounded by the hos­pi­tal­ity of em­ploy­ees at NorCal Ken­worth.

“They made us feel like we were part of the fam­ily,” she said.

At the age of 7, Rylie-Ann was di­ag­nosed with Crohn’s dis­ease, fol­low­ing a string of de­bil­i­tat­ing stom­ach pain episodes that left her in the hos­pi­tal.

Crohn’s dis­ease is an in­flam­ma­tory dis­ease of the diges­tive tract, which can lead to ab­dom­i­nal pain, fa­tigue, weight loss and mal­nu­tri­tion, and other sys­temic symp­toms like fa­tigue and pain. It can lead to per­ma­nent in­testi­nal dam­age, ac­cord­ing to the Mayo Clinic.

Due to the na­ture of RylieAnn’s dis­ease, she has had to use a feed­ing tube to ob­tain nu­tri­ents when her stom­ach is too weak for di­ges­tion. She cur­rently takes more than 20 med­i­ca­tions to al­le­vi­ate the symp­toms of her dis­ease.

Rylie-Ann has been hos­pi­tal­ized nearly every school year since be­ing di­ag­nosed, Sara said.

Rylie-Ann misses roughly 30 days a year, her mother said, be­cause of week­long hos­pi­tal­iza­tions, but her mid­dle school works with her to make sure she does not fall be­hind.

“Rylie-Ann was ref­er­eed to us due to the sever­ity of her dis­ease,” said Michele San­ders, Make-A-Wish North­east­ern, Cen­tral Cal­i­for­nia, and North­ern Ne­vada vice pres­i­dent of com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

The Make-A-Wish foun­da­tion works with chil­dren bat­tling crit­i­cal ill­nesses, to help them fight harder and see the im­pos­si­ble be­come pos­si­ble, through their wish­grant­ing process.

Kids that make wishes are given four wish­ing cat­e­gories: “I wish I could meet,” “I wish I could have,” “I wish I could be” and “I wish I could go.”

Rylie-Ann said she would like to meet celebrity chef Gor­don Ram­say be­cause she loves cook­ing and has cook­ing com­pe­ti­tions with her sis­ter.

“He is a re­ally good chef and he is my fa­vorite chef, so I wanted to meet him,” she said.

She also asked for art sup­plies be­cause she loves to draw.

“I like to draw an­i­mals and scenery,” she said.

Draw­ing has be­come ther­a­peu­tic for Rylie-Ann and has al­lowed her to keep her­self oc­cu­pied when she is hos­pi­tal­ized or sick.

With her re­main­ing wishes, she wished to be­come a gas­troen­terol­o­gist and to go on an African sa­fari.

Rylie-Ann said she wanted to go on sa­fari be­cause she loves an­i­mals and has al­ways wanted to see a rhi­noc­eros.

“She put a star next to African sa­fari, which meant it was her top wish,” San­ders said.

Her wish was spon­sored by NorCal Ken­worth — a fam­ily-owned and op­er­ated heavy and medium-duty truck deal­er­ship in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia — which is why she was in­vited to the com­pany pic­nic, San­ders said.

Ac­cord­ing to San­ders, NorCal Ken­worth has spon­sored sev­eral wishes for the Make-A-Wish Foun­da­tion, but they chose Rylie-Ann be­cause a fam­ily mem­ber within the com­pany had been di­ag­nosed with Crohn’s dis­ease, so it struck a chord.

“I am ex­cited that I get to do this. It is cool!” Rylie-Ann said.

Sara said the fam­ily has not gone on any long-dis­tance trips since Rylie-Ann was di­ag­nosed with Crohn’s dis­ease.

“Since we are do­ing this with Make-AWish, we don’t have to ner­vous about the plan­ning, be­cause they know what RylieAnn needs, so they know how to plan the trip,” Sara said.

Since find­ing out about the trip, Sara said her son, who is 8 years old, has been do­ing a lot of re­search about Africa.

“It is some­thing ev­ery­one is ex­cited about,” Sara said.

BEA AHBECK/NEWS-SENTINEL

Rylie-Ann Ca­cay, 12, re­ceives a sa­fari hat at Micke Grove Re­gional Park in Lodi on Satur­day from Make A Wish Foun­da­tion’s Michele San­ders as Rylie-Ann’s wish of go­ing on an African sa­fari is granted.

BEA AHBECK/NEWS-SENTINEL

Rylie-Ann Ca­cay, 12, re­ceives an art-sup­ply gift from NorCal Ken­worth’s Harry Mamizuka as her mom, Sara Ca­cay, looks on at Micke Grove Re­gional Park in Lodi on Satur­day.

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