Hailee was 7 years old when she was diagnosed with Pre B-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in 2015 and through a years-long fight that's had both ups and downs, she's dreamed of one thing: Swimming with dolphins in Hawaii.
The now-13-year-old has been close twice, but her trip has been postponed each time. This time, members of Hailee's local community want to make sure she gets to go.
"This community and our Sunshine Corner family has stepped up like you wouldn't believe," said Karla Lorey, owner of Sunshine Corner Daycare and Preschool and organizer of a GoFundMe set up to help make Hailee's wish come true. "Just learning that kind of news about a child you really care about is really tough. She's a fighter."
Tara Wilson, Hailee's mother, said after Hailee's initial diagnosis in September 2015, she started treatment and hit remission almost right away.
Make-A-Wish granted Hailee the opportunity to finally swim with the dolphins, but one month before she was supposed to leave for Hawaii, in April 2019, her cancer returned.
"We started treatment all over," said Wilson. "It was a little more intense. We tried different options of treatment so she wasn't sick so much."
Make-A-Wish put Hailee's wish on hold while she focused on getting better, but when the chance came again, the COVID-19 pandemic and Hailee's cancer had other plans.
"She went in for normal blood work and on March 2nd of 2021, she had relapsed again," said Wilson.
Now, Sunshine Corner Day Care and Preschool and the surrounding Indiana and Ohio communities have stepped in, determined to make sure Hailee gets her Hawaiian trip.
"We're going to send her to Hawaii, no matter what," said Lorey. "She's going."
The community has participated in fundraisers, donations and countless drives to raise the $25,000 needed for Hailee's dream to come true. So far, they're still a little short, but if the goal is met, Hailee and her family will make the trip in October.
"This swimming with the dolphins would mean the world to her," said Wilson.