How one ‘wish kid’ got the backyard she always wanted
Posted: January 31, 2024 | Word Count: 714
During the pandemic, little Kennedy and her family practically lived in their backyard all day, every day. Together with her three brothers and her parents, Kennedy loved to engage in active play outdoors, like jumping on their trampoline — even putting up with the nuisance of pervasive sticker burrs throughout the lawn so she could stay outside.
Being at home meant even more to Kennedy and her family since she was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 3. While her medications and treatment sometimes prevent her from enjoying the active play she loves so much, now 6-year-old Kennedy expressed her heartfelt wish to Make-A-Wish — a total backyard makeover.
"Kennedy is obsessed with unicorns, princesses, rainbows and butterflies," said her mother, Kendra. "She loves to play outside, jump on the trampoline, and she loves gymnastics and cheerleading!"
Make-A-Wish creates life-changing wishes for children like Kennedy with critical illnesses in the U.S. and nearly 50 countries worldwide. Together with generous donors, supporters, staff and more than 20,000 volunteers nationwide, the organization delivers hope and joy to children and families when they need it most.
To see Kennedy's wish granted, Make-A-Wish partnered with Topgolf, a sports entertainment complex that features an inclusive, high-tech golf game that everyone can enjoy. Topgolf has been a national corporate partner with Make-A-Wish since 2016, helping raise more than $4 million to help grant wishes just like Kennedy's. Year-round, Topgolf donates $1 to Make-A-Wish from the sale of each order of their injectable donut holes, and also hosts an annual fundraising campaign every April. The company also hosts wish celebrations, send-off parties, wish reveals and welcome home parties for wish kids.
Wishes do come true
The plan for Kennedy focused first on a new in-ground trampoline with a turf perimeter and twinkle lights, together with all new sod to replace the lawn full of the pesky stickers that often made outdoor playtime a challenge.
To add extra fun for Kennedy, Topgolf referred Make-A-Wish to SynLawn, which graciously donated one of their Greenmaker putting greens to the project. Make-A-Wish staff helped the Topgolf crew piece together the Greenmaker putting green (and a new set of just-her-size golf clubs from Topgolf) to help set up the backyard space for the amazing wish reveal day.
Because the wish took a while to grant due to distance and vendor availability, Topgolf invited Kennedy and her family for a day of play at Topgolf in The Colony, Texas, while they were waiting for the big day to arrive. The Topgolf team was very eager to help Kennedy and her brothers play hard and have fun.
"Topgolf pulled out all the stops to shower Kennedy with love from the moment they walked through the front door to the time they left," said Meredith Clements, senior wish manager for Make-A-Wish North Texas.
The big day
To help Kennedy celebrate her big wish reveal day, her parents, her aunt, her cousin, both sets of grandparents and of course Kennedy's three brothers were there, waiting for Kennedy to get home from school.
As she walked into the backyard, all the people she loves held up the letters of her name and cheered as they took in the sight of the totally transformed play space. She first cut through the Make-A-Wish banner at the entrance to the yard, then gleefully jumped on the new trampoline with her brothers and practiced her putting with her dad, Gunter.
"Finding out your child has cancer is one of the hardest things you could ever hear," said Gunter. "When I wondered, 'Why did she wish for a backyard makeover?' I realized that Kennedy put a lot of thought into her wish. I feel like it's going to be making up time for what was lost — the times she couldn't go outside — and now she can do that anytime she wants. She can enjoy walking out of her back door to play golf, jump on the trampoline and do the things she loves."
If you'd like to help make wishes come true for kids just like Kennedy all over the U.S., visit Wish.org — or you can plan a fun trip to a Topgolf location today to buy an order of donut holes or make a donation. Find a venue near you at Topgolf.com.