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Chronically ill girl's wish granted to see koalas

Posted at 6:09 PM, Apr 24, 2018

Katie Higginbotham, along with her parents and her sister Abigail, shared a VIP Experience thanks to Make-A-Wish Southern Florida and the Palm Beach Zoo.


The Higginbothams were flown in on Southwest Airlines from Lavon Texas, spending a week at the very posh Boca Raton Resort and Club.  Make-A-Wish wanting to give the family a break from life in general.


Stu Opperman, Spokesperson for the Make-A-Wish South Florida says, "We want to give them a real break from the daily life, and some of the struggles of the medical problems."

What is Katie's wish?  It's to get up close with a koala. Stu explains, "It turns out the Palm Beach Zoo is one of the few places in the country that you can actually get up close and personal a with the koala."


Katie's dad Rick explains, "We've been looking forward to this for a really long time, and just getting one of the wishes to come true is been an absolute blessing."
Katie's mom Lori explains her condition, "She was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2016, DIPG, which is terminal."


Stu says Make-A-Wish helps both critically-ill and terminally-ill children.


Zoo Keeper Tabitha Beckens spent the afternoon showing Katie the Queensland Koalas named Oz and Katherine.  Tabitha says she was teary-eyed this morning before she came into work and that getting to do this for Katie was meaningful.


Tabitha reflex, "To be able to grant a wish for someone is amazing, so it's not every day you get to do that for somebody."

It turns out Katie likes sloths too, and she mentioned that on the way to the koalas, and guess what, the zoo set it up.

The family fed Wilber grapes and squash as the family snapped a few pics.

I asked Katie what was her favorite part of the day,
"The Koalas," Katie says.
The Koalas, of course, I'm embarrassed I asked such an obvious question.


Near the end of the day, I saw a tender moment between the parents as they gave each other a high-five as a sense of relief and accomplishment came over their faces.

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