Emma had never been on a plane or seen the ocean; that’s not uncommon for a 10-year-old. What is rare is for a 10-year-old to empathize with someone the way Emma does with Make-A-Wish® kid, Levi. As Levi’s mom says, “When Emma said hello to Levi for the first time, she opened two hearts at once.” Little did Emma know what being a good friend to Levi would bring her.
Levi is a 6-year-old boy who loves penguins, Jim Carey movies, and monster trucks. He also suffers from a genetic condition, which hinders his ability to travel and even to communicate. Make-A-Wish volunteers overcame the challenge and helped Levi name his one true wish: surprising his best friend Emma with a trip to Florida. Emma’s family was looped in, dates were set, and travel was arranged. Extended family of Emma and Levi got together for dinner on a Sunday night and that’s when Emma found out she would be flying to Florida on Thursday!
To say Emma has been a great friend to Levi would be an understatement. She coordinated a fundraiser at her school to help with Levi’s medical expenses, arranged for his class to write letters to him when he went to the hospital, and calls regularly to check up on him. The teachers have taken special notice of the friendship and when Levi gets upset or a bit overwhelmed, they bring Emma into the classroom to soothe him.
As much as Levi’s family wanted him to be part of the trip, they knew it could not be done. The volunteers imagined an idea based around the book Flat Stanley. Without Levi’s family knowing, they made a “Flat Levi,” complete with different outfits, for Emma to take on her trip. Emma’s family brought him everywhere! He is pictured with people throughout the airport, in the limo, and in the plane. Their Southwest Airlines’ flight crew brought Emma and Flat Levi into the cockpit to show them both around. A flight attendant even gave Flat Levi her wings and shared Levi’s story over the intercom! Once in Florida, Flat Levi was by Emma’s side at every theme park and beach.
Upon their return, they sent the volunteers all their pictures. The volunteers then made photo books for both families. The volunteers told the families they were doing a wrap-up party for the wish and then surprised both families with their books. Levi is a brave little boy fighting this illness with an amazing best friend by his side. As for Flat Levi, there is a waiting list of people who want their very own Flat Levi to take around the world.
Learn more about how Make-A-Wish volunteers help kids like Levi overcome their communication challenges.