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Sports & Fitness // On the Move
Yu Shing Ting

A Wish Comes True At The Zoo

Eight-year-old Aurora Kimball of Kaneohe shares a storyboard of her trip to San Diego Zoo. Pictured with her are Bill Guptail, president of UnitedHealthcare Community & State in Hawaii, and Siana Hunt, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Hawaii | Photo courtesy UnitedHeathcare Hawaii

In April 2011, 8-year-old Aurora Kimball of Kaneohe was diagnosed with leukemia. Since then, her family has been bound by numbers and her schedule. But the experience also has brought her family closer.

Last Friday, Aurora spent her day at one of her favorite places, Honolulu Zoo, for a welcome-home party hosted by UnitedHealthcare.

It was her wish to be a junior zookeeper at San Diego Zoo, and in January her wish came true when she traveled to California with her parents and brother. UnitedHealthcare sponsored Aurora’s wish through its national alliance with Make-A-Wish, to support the organization and its mission of granting the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.

According to Aurora’s parents, she’s always loved animals, specifically cheetahs, other big cats and penguins.

“She had a large-breed dog growing up that was also diagnosed with cancer at the same time,” they say. “Later, the dog passed away. Aurora’s grandparents have a farm that she grew up around as well.

“Her wish was for the entire family. It gave us the chance to fulfill her dream so that we could all be a part of the experience. As a family, we see life in a different way than we used to. We realize how precious our time here is.”

During her welcome-home party, Aurora shared photos from her trip and was given the opportunity to adopt a cheetah. She participated in various zoo activities, including the Keiki Zoo, where she was able to pet selected animals, including a chicken.

As for her time at San Diego Zoo, Aurora enjoyed meeting a guide name Lori at the zoo’s Safari Park, and, of course, the animals.

“My favorite part was meeting Shiley, the male cheetah,” she says.

“My other favorite part was seeing Shiley’s sister run up to 70 mph in 5.2 seconds.”

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