PARKERSBURG – A young cancer patient got her wish Sunday to go on a shopping spree around town as a Wisconsin firefighter who is bicycling across the United States to bring attention to the Make-A-Wish Foundation rode into Parkersburg.
Tiffany Andrew, 12, of Mole Hill near Pennsboro, and her family gathered at the Parkersburg Fire Department on Sunday afternoon as a welcoming party for Chris Harley Rupp as he rode into Parkersburg as part of his Ride For Wishes campaign.
Rupp is riding on his bicycle from Seattle, Wash., to Miami, Fla., to bring awareness to the work that Make-A-Wish does; to raise $100,000 for Make-A-Wish to go directly to wish granting; and give people something to smile about.
While talking with Rupp about his trip, Tiffany was told by Make-A-Wish officials that Sunday was the day her wish was going to be granted.
Make-A-Wish provides the fulfillment of wishes for kids with serious life-threatening illnesses. Tiffany suffers from thyroid cancer.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation approved Tiffany’s wish for a shopping spree, but her family wanted to surprise her.
“She did not have a clue about it,” her mother Samantha Byrd said. “I feel blessed and honored that she got chosen.
“It means a lot. I would like to be able to get her things that I can’t. Maybe she can get some of the things she wants this way.”
Tiffany has had the cancer for almost two years. She regularly goes to Charleston for radiation treatments and full body scans.
A limo came and drove Tiffany and her family to a number of locations throughout the area to go shopping Sunday afternoon.
“I am really happy to be able to do it,” she said.
Tiffany told Rupp her wish was to have a shopping spree.
“That is so cool,” Rupp told her and asked her if there was anything specific that she wanted to get.
“‘A laptop (computer) and a pair of Converse shoes” were a couple of the things she told him.
“If I had a wish, it would be for a softer seat,” Rupp said with a laugh as he has been averaging around 100 miles a day on his bike.
Rupp left from Seattle on May 28 and is expected to reach Miami on Aug. 16.
“I am about 4,700 miles in,” he said. “The whole journey is 6,500 miles.”
He became involved with Make-A-Wish through a family in the town of Mount Horeb, Wis., whose child was terminally ill with brain stem cancer. Her wish was to go to Disney World.
“It was pretty incredible to see what Make-A-Wish was able to give to the family,” he said. “Make-A-Wish allowed them to cherish the moments they still had left.
“That was pretty incredible to see. That is what made me want to get involved.”
He will be riding through Clarksburg, Romney, into Virginia and on to Washington, D.C., and then he starts heading south along the East Coast.
“I have only been sprinkled on once,” Rupp said of his journey to date. “I have not really been rained on yet,” although he has had to deal with motor vehicle drivers who have had problems sharing the road.
Rupp has spent each night on the road at a fire department along his route. He previously did a cross-country ride in 2011 to benefit the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
“It seemed like a natural idea to do another ride,” he said.
For more information on Hupp’s ride and to donate, go to www.rideforwishes.us or “Coast To Coast for Make A Wish” on Facebook.