MAGIC VALLEY — As Tracey Parsons, a grant wisher for Make-A-Wish Idaho, described the moment she first met Devon Peterson, she fought back tears. The then 12-year-old Peterson had just been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. In a letter she wrote to Make-A-Wish Idaho, she said her wish was to feel her heartbeat fast again for something exciting.
Peterson says she thought about what exactly would make her heart beat fast again, thinking back to her favorite movie Spirit, an animated film about horses. She decided to ask for a trip to Scotland with her family to ride a horse through a mountain, just like a scene in the movie.
"When I was in the hospital, and I was allowed to come home for a week, I needed a horse time. I told everyone I need my heart to race and beat fast again and not because of fear, not because I'm scared and nervous about dying, I need it from something exciting," Peterson said.
That wish had to be put on hold since she couldn't travel due to health concerns. Not too long after that, the pandemic hit, adding another bump in the road. But Parsons, Peterson's wish granter, kept in touch the whole time, trying to find different ways to grant Peterson's wish. Since Peterson's horse was already retired, Parsons and Peterson's family decided to get her a new horse.
"It was a process. This was the first time Make-a-Wish Idaho has granted a wish for a horse, and so we didn't know what we were looking for. Fortunately, Devon's father is in the horse industry, so he helped find one that was being auctioned off in Montana," Parsons said.
Peterson was unaware of the surprise the whole time. At one point, she saw her cousin riding the horse where it was being kept at River Sage Stables, mentioning to her dad how beautiful the horse was and that it was the kind she wanted. Minutes later, she saw Parsons and immediately knew the horse was her wish.
"And I was crying, and I was laughing. It's a dream come true, and as a cancer kid or a survivor, you don't think you're going to get your wish or anything to look forward to," Peterson said.
Tracey says the four-year-long journey has made Peterson and her life-long family friends.
"It was so exciting and so heartfelt. I will tell you this little girl, well not little girl anymore now, she's a teenager, she's one of the bravest girls I've ever had the chance to meet," Parson said.