Make-A-Wish: Princess Khushi’s family pays it forward

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - We first met Khushi Patel in December 2018, when Make-A-Wish Alabama helped turn the 9-year-old Huntsville girl into a princess.

Looking back, Khushi says the best part was "the parade," then adds "I liked the treasure hunt the most, and the limo."

It's understandably tough to pick a favorite moment. During the treasure hunt, Khushi and her family made stops around the city, selecting her royal items - including a dress, tiara, scepter and personalized jewelry box.

Then, there was the limo ride with her family, hair and makeup, photo session and finally, the carriage ride in the Huntsville Christmas parade.

It was a day of pure fun and happiness that followed many difficult times. Several years ago, Khushi was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare type of cancer that almost always affects children.

"It touched our heart that Make-A-Wish, they have done so much for Khushi and our family to take that pain away," her father says.

So when the family was asked to share their story at a sign up meeting for Make-A-Wish Alabama's Trailblaze Challenge, Chirag Patel did more than just talk the talk. He committed to walk the walk.

Photo: Make-A-Wish Alabama

The Trailblaze Challenge is one of Make-A-Wish Alabama's biggest fundraisers and this year was especially important. With more than 250 critically ill children around the state still on the waiting list, about 80 in North Alabama, the non-profit set a goal of $400,000.

Each team member committed to not only hiking 26.3 miles in a single day but also raising at least $2,500.

After nearly four months of training hikes, Patel completed the challenge on May 18, hiking 26.3 miles through the Talladega National Forest's Pinhoti Trail and exceeding his goal of $2,500.

Photo: Make-A-Wish Alabama

He says it wasn't that hard and there was plenty of motivation.

"You're doing this for the children. You're committed to doing this for them."

Khushi would agree. She was on the list for a year - the average wait time - before her wish to be a princess was granted.

While she may have trouble deciding on her favorite moment, there is no doubt what it meant to her.

She tells us that "Make-A-Wish is a great kind of thing to make wishes come true for children. So, you would have the best day of your life if you had a wish and they made it come true. It would be your best day ever and a day you'll never forget."

Through events like the Trailblaze Challenge, direct donations and other efforts, organizers hope to reduce the wait time and make even more "best days ever" for Alabama children.

If you'd like to help, click here to learn of the many ways to support the Make-A-Wish Alabama mission.

We also invite you to join WHNT News 19 and Make-A-Wish Alabama on Thursday, June 20 for a special telethon.

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