A little girl’s final wish continues to inspire many after her death. At 11 years of age, Natalia had been battling brain cancer for a year, losing her battle against the cancer in November. But before her death, Natalia was contacted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, who not only gladly honored her request then, but continue to honor it today.
Natalia’s wish was to help the homeless in her hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. When contacted by the foundation, Natalia’s response was simple and heartfelt. According to the foundation, Natalia immediately asked, “Can we feed the homeless?”
One of the side effects of Natalia’s chemotherapy was a constant feeling of cold. She hated the thought of anyone else experiencing the constant chill she herself dealt with, and so her request was to provide the homeless with the special soup she ate to help fight the chill, as well as blankets, so that the homeless could be warm “from the inside out.”
So the Make-A-Wish Foundation fed the Cincinnati homeless, and distributed blankets.
And although Natalia isn’t here today to see their continued efforts, the foundation recently did the same in Phoenix, Arizona in honor of the little girl’s final wish. On Monday, it donated a total of 100 blankets, as well as the ingredients necessary to make Natalia’s special soup, to children belonging to an after-school program at the Central Arizona Shelter Services, a place that provides support to at-risk and homeless families.
“It was a pleasant shock to hear that we were going to receive all of this,” said Brenda Cash, a volunteer manager of the shelter told the Arizona Republic.”When you hear her story, you just can’t believe a little girl would do something like this for other children.”
Understandably, others initially encouraged Natalia to to use the wish for herself, said Natalia’s father Byron, but his special little girl didn’t want a trip to a theme park or to meet a superstar. Her mother Kelly recalls that Natalia has always shown a generosity of spirit, sharing one such example with Cincinnati.com.
“When three-year-old Natalia Marsh-Welton refused to clean her room, her parents tried a common tactic and threatened to donate her toys that lay scattered about to kids who would appreciate them.
“‘She said, “Oh, that’s a great idea!” recalled her mother, Kelly, laughing. Then the generous tot with a heart of gold asked if she could give away her birthday gifts she just received two months earlier, also.
“‘That’s who she’s always been,’ Kelly said.”
The children at the shelter in Arizona helped make Natalia’s special warming soup while learning of her story, and many of them were moved.
“She could have gone to Disneyland or watched Cartoon Network all day,” said one boy. “But she decided to help us. That takes heart.”
Even after her death, Natalia’s mission to feed and warm the homeless will carry on. Her father has plans to carry his daughter’s wish as far as he can, as well.
“It’s something we can continue to grow and do more because that is what she wanted,” Byron said. “She wanted it all over the world. We may not be able to reach all over the world, but we’re going to try to reach as many places as we can in Cincinnati and if we can, outside of Cincinnati.”
Byron said they have set up a Facebook page in Natalia’s name so “anyone who helps further her mission can share their story.” The family also has a GoFundMe page set up to help finance their daughter’s dream.
“Natalia was born happy and healthy and perfect and wonderful so when she got sick it was like getting hit with a ton of bricks. And then when she died it was twice as bad,” Natalia’s mother Kelly said. “But through all of this it’s got to mean something and has to be for a reason. It’s not fair that she’s gone and it’s not fair that this beautiful kid doesn’t get to become a beautiful adult so there’s got to be something positive that has to come from it.”
The Make-A-Wish Foundation’s mission is to grant a wish to children battling terminal diseases, with wishes ranging from meeting the pope, like this little girl, to becoming a superhero for a day, like this little boy. And although Natalia didn’t wear a cape, it may be that she, too, became a super-hero because of her wish.
[Image via Cincinnati.com]