9/3/2013 8:11:00 AM Prescott YMCA, Make-A-Wish Foundation give young Paulden swimmer an all-access pass
Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier Paula Pratt holds her new Barbie doll that she received along with a family membership to the Prescott YMCA as part of her Make-A-Wish request.
Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier Make a Wish volunteer (grantor) Lori Padilla, at right, presents Paula and Kim Pratt a flotation device for her to use as part of her Make A Wish wish that came true with a family membership to the Prescott YMCA on Thursday.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona and the Prescott YMCA have partnered to celebrate a 12-year-old's love of water.
Twelve-year-old Paula Pratt of Paulden is diagnosed with a life-threatening seizure disorder and swims often for therapy - and fun. While they couldn't bring the pool to her, representatives with Make-A-Wish Arizona and the YMCA did the next best thing - they gave Pratt and her family a yearlong membership to the facility, which features an indoor pool.
Paula and her friends and family were treated to pizza and cake as part of the surprise. Paula also received gifts of swimming gear and toys.
Paula's mother, Kim Pratt, expressed her gratitude to both organizations Wednesday during an official presentation.
"She's excited about it. We're going to come in and swim as much as possible," she said. "Paula loves swimming. She likes horses and she likes people in general. It makes me feel great to know there are people out there who care."
Myrta George, wish grantor for Make-A-Wish, also works as the artistic director for the Prescott YMCA. George visited the Pratt family and helped coordinate her wish with the YMCA and the foundation.
"I visit the families and do a ton of paperwork with them," she said. "I love the Pratt family. The child remains in my heart."
Lori Padilla, also a Make-A-Wish Arizona wish grantor, has volunteered with the organization for 10 years. She said Paula originally wished for a pool, but a number of factors prevented the idea from becoming a reality.
"We were going to do an above-ground pool, but the family decided it might be too hard to keep it up," Padilla said. "As a second choice, she wanted a YMCA membership for her and her family. (The YMCA) has been gracious enough to provide her wish, and will continue to renew it until she's 18 for her and her immediate family."
Damon Olsen, Prescott YMCA chief executive officer, said the organization provided $160,000 in local programs and services to children and families in need in 2012. An annual membership for two adults and children is typically $722, he said.
"When (Paula is) in the water she feels wonderful," Olsen said. "We are glad to help out."
Make-A-Wish Arizona is noted as the founding chapter of the international Make-A-Wish Foundation. The Arizona chapter grants more than 300 wishes annually. The organization can be found online at www.wishaz.org. Visit the Prescott YMCA online at www.prescottymca.org for more information.
Padilla said Make-A-Wish Arizona last provided a wish in the Prescott area as recently as Aug. 24.
"There was a little girl whose wish was to go to where the princesses live, so we sent her to Disneyland," Padilla said. "These children go through a lot and we try really hard to bring a smile to their face."
Follow reporter Patrick Whitehurst on Twitter @pwdcourier.