The wonder of giving comes in many forms. Macy’s is partnering with Make-A-Wish for the annual Believe campaign for the 11th year, making wishes come true across the country for children with critical illnesses. Our own colleagues are also among the more than 2.6 million people touched by the wishes granted by Macy’s. We’re sharing the special journey of one of this year’s wish kids and she comes from the Macy’s family. Meet Mia DiVenere and receive the gift of inspiration from her story.
More than three children are diagnosed with a critical illness every hour that Macy’s is open for business. Since 2003, Macy’s has donated more than $112 million to Make-A-Wish, helping grant more than 13,000 wishes to children diagnosed with critical illnesses. This year, Macy’s will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish for each letter sent to Santa, up to $1 million, from Nov. 2, 2018, to Dec. 24, 2018. Customers can write letters and drop them off in stores in the red Believe letterboxes or submit them online at macys.com/believe.
When Santa reads the majority of wish lists this year, he will find the usual; cars, toys, and the latest gadgets. But when he gets to Mia DiVenere’s list, he’ll encounter a very unique wish: the wish to inspire others and give hope to children who have cancer. Mia’s wish comes from the heart – and from personal experience. On her 13th birthday, Mia received the diagnosis that she had Sarcoma BCOR/CCNB3, a rare form of cancer.
“I’ll never forget that MRI when she was diagnosed on her birthday,” said Mia’s mom, Christy Eulberg. Christy works as a manager for Talent Acquisition at Macy’s, recruiting the best talent for roles within the company. “The nurse came in and said, ‘I need you to sign a consent form that you understand this is cancer.’” Within two weeks, Mia was having her first chemo treatment. It was the first of 14 chemo treatments and 38 rounds of radiation therapy. Mia’s journey had begun.
But Mia was born a survivor – literally. “I think Mia has a sense of resiliency unlike anyone else I’ve ever met. She inspires me to keep going. She’s a trauma baby; she’s determined about what she wants to do,” said mom Christy. Born at just 24 weeks, Mia and her twin brother Ben were the earliest-born twins to survive at the time. She was a very feisty baby, and she was always kicking. She kicked her brother Ben while in the womb, causing his water to break, and then saved his life, her mother recalls, “by staying in front and keeping him inside. She was stubborn and didn’t want to come out yet, and wouldn’t let him come out either. I always told Ben, ‘she kicked you but she saved your life too.’”
That feisty spirit would continue to strengthen Mia on her journey. In January of 2018, she underwent a 13-hour surgery to remove the tumor. Then, a serious infection began where the tumor was removed, and Mia would have to undergo another surgery months later to treat the infection. Mia is still undergoing treatment for the infection and goes to the surgery center every week at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. However, a few weeks after the surgery, Christy teared up as she received a new announcement – after 10 months, Mia was officially cancer-free.
“We’ve been through more than we ever thought we would have to, and we’re still going through it,” said Christy. “But Macy’s is understanding and progressive; I work for a company which has given me the flexibility that I need to take care of Mia. As an employer, Macy’s has provided me so many opportunities to be there for her. I’ve been able to attend all of her therapies and appointments. I care deeply about my performance at work and I love being in the office. I’ve been able to continue doing a great job while having all of this going on.”
Mia’s big holiday wish is a deeply giving one: to inspire others and bring hope to kids who have cancer. This year, through the partnership between Make-A-Wish and Macy’s, she received her wish. On Nov. 23, Mia was the guest of honor at Cincinnati’s Light Up the Square event, promoting the Believe campaign at the annual giant Macy’s Christmas tree lighting. Thousands of children, adults and families at Fountain Square watched Mia’s incredible story on a giant screen. As Mia lit up the night with her smile and her joy, she inspired others both at the square and on television. Mia may have very well been shining even more brightly than the giant tree.
But Macy’s and Make-A-Wish made sure she also received a special present herself. On Nov. 15, Macy’s Kenwood Towne Centre opened its doors to Mia and her twin brother for a personal VIP shopping experience. The Macy’s team escorted Mia and her family to a dressing room decorated with her name. Mia got to shop for the perfect outfit to wear for her debut at Light Up the Square. After a makeover with a personal stylist, Mia told her story through an interview with Channel 5 News.*
“I feel proud that my employer, Macy’s, sponsored Mia to be part of Make-A-Wish,” said mom Christy. “They’ve got my back, and they have her back, too. Now Mia will be a part of something greater, raising money for kids who are fighting critical diseases. I’m honored to be her mom.”
She’s been an inspiration to others. After a year of feeling that she could not fulfill her wish from the confinement of her hospital bed, we are thrilled that Mia has travelled into the hearts and homes of families across the nation through television, and as a company, we are honored to be a part of her story.
Check out our other Believe launch events around the country as we get ready for National Believe Day on Dec. 7.
* Video source: WLWT/Hearst Television