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Cancer stricken teen’s wish to visit Sanibel comes true

By Staff | Sep 17, 2009

Most teens crave being the center of attention as much as they do spending time with friends, shopping and eating.

Kayli Hostetler is one of those typical teens.

Kayli, a pretty 15-year-old with a 100-watt smile, loves spa treatments, yummy food, her family and best friend Michaela Horner.

But Kayli has one unique thing about her that makes her living a typical teen life all the more special – she is battling cancer.

Diagnosed at the age of eight with ganglioneuroblastoma, a rare cancer found mostly in children, Kayli has had many surgeries and treatments to fight the disease.

But through the medical challenges, Kayli’s sunny personality and optimism, family support and faith in God has kept her fighting.

Still all fight and no fun is not this Ohio teen’s style.

So when she was given the opportunity by Wishes Can Happen to be granted a special wish for dealing with her illness she chose a trip to Sanibel.

For the past week, Kayli, her mom Judy Hostetler, dad Michael, brothers Luke and Caleb and best friend Michaela lived it up on Sanibel.

Through the help of the Ohio-based non-profit group Wishes Can Happen and the generosity of local businesses Kayli and her family experienced a fairy tale adventure complete with an all expenses-paid trip to Sanibel. Her stay included a luxury beach condo at Pointe Santo provided by Dave Waks and Sandy Teger, dolphin tour by Adventures in Paradise, shopping, pampering spa treatment for Kayli, mom and pal Michaela at Sanibel Day Spa and lots of ice cream from popular Pinocchio’s Ice Cream, said Madalyn Sweeney, community relations director for Wishes Can Happen. Other businesses joined in the effort to make Kayli’s Sanibel dream come true, they included, Billy’s Bike Rentals whom donated bikes for the whole week for the family, The Bubble Room restaurant on Captiva, Lighthouse Caf, Cheeburger-Cheeburger Twilight Caf, Over Easy Caf, Island Pizza and Buster’s and Carrabba’s both in Fort Myers. The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum also gave Kayli and her family a tour of the museum.

Between taking dips in the condo’s swimming pool and the gulf, noshing on tasty meals at nearby restaurants, shopping at Periwinkle Place and getting pampered at the Sanibel Day Spa – Kayli was aglow.

“It’s been pretty much amazing,” Kayli said.

While getting their nails done at the spa, Kayli, Michaela and mom Judy Hostetler chatted about living with the teen’s cancer.

“There’s been some pretty rough waters,” said Judy Hostetler, Kayli’s mom. “You wish as a parent you can make it all better but you can’t. Every day is a blessing.”

Michaela, Kayli’s best friend has been there every step of the way for her friend. The two have been friends since the age of six when Michaela moved next door to Kayli.

“It’s really tough at times,” Michael said shooting a grin at Kayli. “I pray alot of the time.”

And as for Kayli, she just shakes her head in that non-chalant ways teens tend to love to do and smiles. She said God is taking of her.

And with all of the ups and downs of dealing with Kayli’s cancer, the Sanibel trip seemed to be just what the doctor ordered.

“If we could hug the island we would,” Judy Hostetler said with tears welling in her eyes.

The family expressed their gratitude for the kindness and generosity lavished on them from the Sanibel community. Kayli said she has felt like a rock star celebrity and she and Michaela could not stop fingering their blue-hued hand-blown glass necklaces they got together at Periwinkle Place.

With more treatments on the horizon in October, Kayli’s mom is hopeful about the future as she watched her daughter giggling in the spa with Michaela over their newly polished toes.

And as for Kayli she not about to waste one minute worrying about her health and not enjoying her adventure on Sanibel.

“It’s a once in a lifetime experience,” she said. “Mine as well live it up.”

To visit Kayli Hostelter’s website go to www.caringbridge/visit/kaylihostetler/