Here at Focus, we’ve been privileged to welcome many influential people for visits. Some are well-known Christian leaders and others are from the entertainment and sports worlds. We’ve hosted politicians and even public figures who passionately disagree with some of what we believe. Whoever it has been, we’ve been delighted to meet and host them on our campus.
As memorable as these opportunities are, however, they just don’t compare to the critically ill young boys and girls who have visited through the years thanks to the work of organizations like the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Those kids are truly are our “V.I.P.” guests.
Last week we welcomed one such child, a precious 6-year-old named Kari Noe. Kari was diagnosed with leukemia in 2011, forcing this spunky little girl to endure repeated hospital visits, chemotherapy treatment, and countless tests.
It was during these procedures that Kari fell in love with Adventures in Odyssey. Soon the characters from Odyssey helped her pass the time and became beloved friends to the little girl. So when it came time to submit her wishes, she said she wanted to visit Focus on the Family.
Our staff went all out to honor Kari and her family. Members of our Guest Relations team dressed up as princesses. We gave Kari and her family Focus resources. Kari recorded a line for an upcoming Adventures in Odyssey episode and had a personal phone call from the character “Chris.” She hung out with “Whit” and “Sherman the Dog” (Focus staff dressed up in costume). We treated her to the lunch she requested: a cheeseburger and a Wod-Fam-Choc-Sod (the “World Famous Chocolate Soda” from Whit’s End).
I had the chance to visit with Kari and her family. In my office we put on a play she directed called “Surprise Party” where we all huddled down on the floor and then stood up and yelled, “Surprise!” Kari and her brother, Malachi, enjoyed gumballs from my gumball machine. It thrilled me to hear Kari excitedly tell me about her day, and to see how energetic and strong she is.
Welcoming Kari and her family, and loving them, hugging them and treating them like royalty, drives at the core of who we are at Focus on the Family. We’re here to serve moms and dads in need. We exist to help families thrive – even families going through something as trying and difficult as cancer. As I reflected back on our time with Kari during our staff chapel service last Friday, it was impossible for me not to tear up.
One last thing about Kari’s visit that I want to share. This sweet little girl’s back-up wish was to have tea at a castle with princesses. That fact was unbeknownst to us when one of our staffers, Diane Ingolia, coordinated with The Navigators for Kari to enjoy tea at Glen Eyrie Castle here in town with “royalty!” I love how God was so obviously involved in all of this – and how evident it is that He cares about even the smallest details in our lives.
Please pray for Kari and her family. She’s finished with her chemotherapy but still must endure five years of doctor’s visits and tests to make sure the cancer doesn’t return. We’re praying along with her family for Kari’s complete healing.