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Former ‘wish kid’ became a volunteer to Pay It Forward to other children

Pay It Forward is sponsored by America First Credit Union, Ken Garff Kia and Super Star Car Wash
Illiana Teran's connection to Make-a-Wish Arizona is personal. Pay It Forward is sponsored by America First Credit Union, Ken Garff Kia and Super Star Car Wash.
Published: Mar. 16, 2022 at 1:59 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Illiana Teran is one of the many hard-working volunteers at Make-A-Wish Arizona. She spends her free time creating life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. “You get to give them that sense of normalcy,” Illiana says. “They kind of forget that they are sick.”

For Illiana, her connection to Make-A-Wish is personal. In 2007, she was diagnosed with Stage II Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She was a senior in high school at the time, and she was determined to beat her illness head-on. “Once we found out exactly what our treatment plan was going to be, it was like, ‘Let’s go get this thing,’” Illiana said.

Her team of doctors referred her to Make-A-Wish Arizona and explained that she would be eligible to receive a wish. She says it caught her off guard. “Your first thought is terminal. We’re not at that stage. It was explained to us that it was for both chronic and terminal illnesses,” Illiana explained.

In November 2008, she and her family made the trip to New York City to see the Big Apple at Christmas time. “At the time of my trip, I had completed all chemo and my radiation treatment,” Illiana said. “It was even more of a celebratory trip.”

📄/▸ Fountain Hills wish kid hopes to use her wish to Pay It Forward

Hollie Costello from Make-A-Wish Arizona says the volunteers, like Illiana, make these wishes come true. “They become a part of the child’s medical team,” Costello said.

📄 Join Arizona’s Family and Pay It Forward to Make-A-Wish Arizona

Illiana has been cancer-free for 14 years, and for the past three years, she’s been paying it forward. “You make them a part of your family, and we become part of theirs too,” Illiana said. “That’s the biggest thing about being a volunteer is bringing that joy to these kids.

For more information or to donate to Make-A-Wish Arizona, click here or call (602) 395-WISH (9474).

Editor’s note: The clip from “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” is courtesy of 20th Century Studios.