Make-A-Wish Foundation grants wish at assembly


Leighton Kaba watches as students release pink and purple balloons from their chairs. Credit: Pavan Tauh/Chronicle

Maddy Daum

Community Council partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to reveal a trip to Disneyland for a 5-year-old cancer survivor Nov. 14 at an all-school assembly.

Leighton Kaba beat leukemia through chemotherapy and a successful bone marrow transplant from her sister. Soon after her surgery, she became eligible for a wish and decided to use her wish to go to Disneyland.

Students on Community Council began to plan her wish two months ago and organized the presentation.

Kaba and her family were greeted outside Taper Gym by a fairy godmother, played by Natalie Musicant ’17. They were then led inside to the awaiting student body and a royal scene including Head Prefects Cate Wolfen ’17 and Matt Thomas ’17, who were dressed as king and queen.

“All the students were really thrilled and there was such a great energy,” Manager of External Events at the Make-a-Wish Foundation Greater Los Angeles Taylor Kalman said. “I think that if it wasn’t for the support and dedication of the Make-A-Wish team at Harvard-Westlake it wouldn’t have been such an amazing experience and it truly was one of the most heartfelt wish reveals I’ve ever been a part of.”

After Musicant granted her a series of “wishes,” including pink and purple balloons and having the audience put on Mickey Mouse ears, she revealed that Leighton and her family would be traveling to Disneyland.

MakeAWish 111416 from hwchronicle on Vimeo.

“She had great support leading up to the big presentation and she was thrilled,” Kalman said. “I’ve never seen a wish kid be so in the moment and understanding of what’s going on and just elated the whole time.” 

Students then lined the path from Taper Gym to the quad as Kaba rode in a horse-drawn carriage.

“Leighton’s reaction made all of our work worth it, and seeing her so surprised and happy was more than I could’ve asked for,” Community Council member Natalie Choi ’18 said. “I was so proud of our campus for contributing to something larger than ourselves. We were initially worried that students wouldn’t be willing to participate or would be less than enthusiastic, but their participation was incredible and I think their positive energy made the event super successful.”

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