Magic Moments may grant young cancer patient’s big wish. Darby Emma Jones has one of those faces that make her look like she belongs on the top of a Christmas tree. The 10-year-old Huntsville girl loves to read, write, act, sing and dance. Even on a cold morning, she practices waltzing alone in her living room.
This dance, however, is a little more than just practice for a yearly recital. Darby’s a candidate for the Magic Moments organization that grants wishes to children with life-altering medical conditions. Recently, Valerie Jones, Darby’s mother, received a letter stating that upon contact with the celebrity, Darby would have her wish fulfilled and would be able to waltz with Zac Efron, star of the “High School Musical” movies.
“I think Zac Efron is good and great,” Darby said. “When Mommy and Daddy were talking about it, I was like ‘Wow! Am I dreaming?’ But no, it’s real.”
Darby was a candidate because of a medical history much too long for a 10-year-old. She was born with Down syndrome and a problem with her heart. After undergoing open-heart surgery as a newborn, Darby was healthy until she was 2, when she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and underwent her first round of treatment. For six years, Darby lived cancer-free. Then in 2008, she developed another kind of cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and has since been undergoing her second round of chemotherapy, her mother said.
The weekly chemotherapy treatments require Darby to travel to Birmingham to the pediatric oncology and hematology division of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital. It was there that a representative from Magic Moments asked Valerie Jones if she would be interested in applying for Darby to receive a wish, Jones said.
“We got to put down three wishes,” Jones said. “Since Darby loves to dance, she said she wanted to waltz with Zac Efron.”
Darby now attends the Dance Your Dreams class at Merrimack Hall. The class provides dance education for children who don’t participate in mainstream dance education due to special needs or individual challenges, said Hayley Henderson, Darby’s former teacher.
“Darby always has tons of energy,” Henderson said. “She’s a great student, great listener, works very hard, a beautiful ballerina and loves being onstage.”
Even if the wish doesn’t work out, Jones said the important thing is for people to know how her daughter handles her medical problems. In all of the medical treatments, chemotherapy, bone aspirations and medicines, Darby has never complained, she said.
“I think we should all live our lives like Darby,” Jones said. “Her life is simple, uncomplicated. It’s in the now and it’s real.”
When asked what she would like people to know about her, Darby said, “I just want them to know I’m happy, that I try to be helpful and that I’m thankful for my family and friends.” [Source]