Rebekah’s Wish: Help Another Sick Kid Before She Dies

9-year-old Rebekah Spader wants to give another kid a Make-A-Wish

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Every parent wants a healthy, happy child. But when healthy is no longer an option, you focus on the happy.

That’s exactly what the Spader family is doing for their 9-year-old Rebekah. Tony and Stephanie have five kids. Four of them are girls. Two have serious medical conditions. One of them is fighting for her life.

“We don’t know what next year is going to be like. We don’t know if she’ll even be with us five months from now,” Rebekah’s mom Stephanie Spader said.

Nine-year-old Rebekah has faced obstacles since the day she was born.

“It was confirmed that she had the hereditary sensory autonomic neuropathy, which is what her older sister has and also my nephew had,” Stephanie explained.

HSAN isn’t curable, but it can be managed. Life’s second curveball came nearly six years later. This time Rebekah was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome. As her mom Stephanie calls it, pre-leukemia.

“She was the first person with HSAN that received chemo, ever,” Stephanie added.

But then came a blessing, from a surprise. Their unexpected 5th child Teresa, just a baby at the time, turned out to be Rebekah’s only bone marrow match.

“She (Rebekah) did really well through the first transplant, however it was unsuccessful. This past March is when we realized that everything that we had done was not working,” Stephanie said.

That means Rebekah’s life will be cut short. So, they’ve talked about heaven, even comparing it to the first day of kindergarten.

“You yelled and screamed and cried and said, Daddy don’t leave me. But I left you and then the next day what did you want to do?” Rebekah’s dad Tony asked her.
“I wanted to go back,” Rebekah responded.
“You wanted to go back and you were like, Bye dad!”
“Bye dad, see ya!” Rebekah said with a laugh.
“So, we’ve had that discussion of it may be scary when it comes close.”

It’s these talks that have led the family to another big decision.

“We’re going to live life to the fullest and just stop treatment and do what we could to enjoy what we have left. We don’t know what that is. It might be five months. It might be five years. It might be 25 years,” Stephanie said.
Rebekah responds, “or 80 years!”

That optimism is guiding Rebekah’s new bucket list. It includes her favorite outdoor activities like swimming and camping. And of course the bonfires where she gets to eat “shmarshmallows.”

But there are also a few new things.

“We went fishing last weekend, salmon fishing at the Great Lakes. Two days in a row she fell asleep on my lap. And the guide said, do you want to lay her down? And I was like, no, I’m going to soak up every second of this that I can get,” Tony said.

But this precious time with family, her new Maid of Honor dress for her Uncle Mark’s wedding, even her new puppy; these aren’t the greatest things on her list. Just wait until you find out what she really wants to do before she dies.

“Give another kid a Make-A-Wish,” Rebekah said.

It’s at O’Gorman High School where Rebekah plans to check off perhaps the biggest item on her bucket list, her Wish Gift Concert.

“There’s enough sad days in the hospital, isn’t there? That if you can give somebody a good day outside the hospital that’s going to be pretty neat, isn’t it?” Tony asked Rebekah.

For a 9-year-old who’s spent too many days in the hospital, it’s time to have a little fun.

Rebekah’s wish gift concert will feature two of her favorite singers and her favorite song Home Run. It’s all to raise money to grant another sick child’s wish.

“You never know how god is going to work in your life, do you?” Stephanie asked.
“Nope!” Rebekah responded.

But what they do know is that little Rebekah will leave a legacy as big as her hugs.

Rebekah’s Wish Gift Concert takes place Saturday, July 11 in O’Gorman High School’s Performing Arts Center in Sioux Falls. The concert is at 7:30 p.m. and features Christian music artists Geoff Moore and Rachelle Hope. Tickets are just $11. To learn more, to donate or to buy tickets, click here.

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