A South Surrey girl who wished five years ago for a magical visit with mermaids is basking in a sea of comfort these days, after officials with the wish-granting Make-A-Wish charity challenged her to “think outside the box.”
Ella-Ray Lewis said this week that she didn’t realize when she switched her wish – granted due to her ongoing battle with an aggressive skin cancer – last fall to a dream bedroom instead of a trip, just how perfect the move would turn out to be.
“Once I got it, I was very happy at the time, I had just got out of an operation and was in recovery,” Ella-Ray said by email Monday (Dec. 14). “I had many ideas on what to do with my wish.
“Now I am so glad I chose to give my bedroom a makeover because at the time when I made my wish I didn’t know that (there) would be such thing as COVID-19. And I do online school now, so I’m so glad that I have a beautiful room to do my online school in.”
It was Christmastime 13 years ago when Ella-Ray first captured hearts on the Semiahmoo Peninsula and beyond. A photo of Ella-Ray, who was born with a rare skin condition, in her dad Craig’s arms at a community event set off a chain of goodwill that has continued to this day; from fundraisers and gifts of baby formula to princess parties and more.
Now in Grade 8 at Semiahmoo Secondary, she was first introduced to Peace Arch News readers when she was 16 months old, after a former classmate of her dad’s decided to organize a fundraiser to help the family.
In the years since, the precocious-toddler-turned-teenager has undergone 71 operations – the majority of which have been steps to deal with her skin cancer; removing diseased skin and implanting bags to grow new skin. There have also been a series of procedures to correct a curvature in her spine that was diagnosed just before her seventh birthday.
The latter operations wrapped up in September 2019, while the next round of surgeries to tackle the remaining diseased skin – in which bags will again be implanted under her skin to grow new skin, then refilled every week for 16 weeks – is anticipated to get underway in the new year, after father and daughter receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Because of COVID, we’re just kind of on a hold,” Craig Lewis said.
In the meantime, Ella-Ray is enjoying what her dad describes as “the best wish ever.” It arrived just before summer and “10 years from now, it’s a big girl’s dream bedroom, too,” he said.
The new decor is the all-white, Michael Amini Sky Tower collection – a bed with illuminated headboard, a dresser with lighted mirror, a chest of drawers and night stand. A computer desk, printer and other details were added with the help of friends, and for the holidays, Ella-Ray has strung up sparkling Christmas lights.
The 13-year-old said she chose a white theme because she “wanted my room to look more open, bigger and light.” Previously, it had a blue, ocean theme, she said.
Her dad said the added comfort will be especially appreciated when the next round of surgeries begins, as Ella-Ray will be spending a lot more time at home again.
Lewis said he reached out to PAN this month because this is the same time of year that Ella-Ray’s story began, and he wanted to share how far she has come, as well as the details of her wish finally coming true.
He also wanted to thank the community again for helping his family weather the journey.
“And all this started back at this time 13 years ago, at the London Drugs, where the guy was shaking the bells and sent me down to the (Christmas event),” he said.
“I’d love to let everyone know all the help that came out of White Rock/South Surrey and all these fundraising people. They all really need a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Ella-Ray.”
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