Most people are eager escape the winter weather and head for a tropical destination. For Sophia Galvan, 6, of Tampa, Fla., seeing snow would be a wish come true.
Sophia is fighting nasopharyngeal rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of cancer that causes soft tissue tumors to appear in children, according to ABC affiliate WVII in Bangor, Maine. When the Make-A-Wish Foundation gave her the chance to make a desire come true, the young Florida girl had a simple request, the foundation told ABCNews.com: to see snow and build a snow man.
Her mother, Yolanda Galvan, told WVII, “That’s the first thing that came to her mind, to go and see the snow,” after the opportunity arose from Make-A-Wish. Galvan reached out to the foundation to help make her daughter’s dream come true, telling the foundation that her daughter had only known snow through watching TV.
Make-A-Wish granted her wish, which began with a plane ride that took Sophia, her parents, grandmother, younger brother and baby sister to Bangor.
From the plane, Sophia finally saw snow for the first time. “I was in the cloud and then I saw the snow,” she told WVII.
The next week Sophia became very acquainted with snow. On Sunday she had the ultimate snow experience at Burgess Tree Farm, according to Meredith Jones, office manager at the Maine Make-A-Wish chapter. “We had a beautiful snowstorm,” said Jones. “It was like a snow globe.” There Sophia played in snow for the first time, outfitted in snow attire donated by local businesses.
Over the next two days, Sophia and her family were welcomed at the University of Maine, where she was able to build her first snowman, and indoors at the Maine Discovery Museum. She even received the VIP treatment at Olive Garden, her favorite restaurant.
On Wednesday, the Galvan family was escorted by county, state, town, and life flight officers to the Hermon Mountain ski area, in Hermon, Maine. Bill Whitcomb, of Hermon Mountain, told ABC News, “If you’re from Maine, an eight-car police escort is a big deal.”
Whitcomb, along with a ski patrol and other volunteers, were waiting at Hermon Mountain to greet Sophia. He explained the Maine community’s willingness to contribute to Sophia’s wish: “We involved as much of the state as we could. As we got started with it, more people heard about it and wanted to get involved; everybody that I called wanted to contribute.”
From food and clothing to flights and an album containing pictures of snowmen built by different ski patrol areas in the state, the Maine community rallied around the Galvan family. When a member of the ski patrol heard that her favorite show was “Spongebob,” he erected a snowman of the character. “Somebody got the idea, you made a phone call, and it happened,” Whitcomb said.
As for Sophia, those present observed that she looked right at home in the Maine snow. She spent the day on the mountain tubing, riding a sled pulled by the local dog sled team, and making snow angels with the local children.
“You see snow every day,” Lisa Gleeson, communications manager at Make-A-Wish in Maine, told ABC News. “It reminds you how special it is. She’s fighting this disease, and she had one wish.
“She just wanted to see snow.”
The Galvan family was on a plane home to Florida and could not be reached by ABC News.