Chester, NJ – Sarah Stover isn’t your typical 15-year-old. When she was 12, she helped raise $10,000 to build a well and cistern in Haiti. She’s currently in her fifth year of studying Mandarin and recently decided to teach herself German. She loves to draw and ride horses.
So on August 14, 2012, when she woke with a huge mass in her throat and neck that had literally appeared overnight, Sarah and her family prepared for the worst.
Sarah was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, pediatric follicular lymphoma, and needed immediate surgery. Her type of cancer is normally found in people ages 55-60; only 25 children worldwide are diagnosed with this cancer every year. Despite her diagnosis, Sarah responded well to the 6-month, weekly chemo treatment; so much so that her data will be shared with medical teams around the world to help others recover from follicular lymphoma.
When Sarah’s social worker approached her about the opportunity to be granted a wish through Make-A-Wish® New Jersey, an organization that grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions between the ages of 2 ½ and 18, Sarah took time to reflect on what she would want.
“I thought, instead of giving me something to look forward to, why don’t I give six girls something to look forward to instead?” Sarah explained.
Sarah chose to give six at-risk girls a chance at an education and hope for a brighter future by sponsoring them for a year at the More Than Me Academy in Liberia, West Africa. More Than Me (MTM) gets girls off the street and into school in one of the poorest slums in the world. The MTM Academy, a free, all-girls primary school, opened its doors on September 7th with the support of Liberia’s President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
Katie Meyler, founder of MTM, grew up in New Jersey and overcame her own obstacles to get to where she is today. Her hope, and MTM’s vision, is to connect with vulnerable girls who are facing adversity and give them the power and knowledge to make choices about their future. Sarah met Katie at a local fundraising event and immediately felt connected to Katie and the girls MTM sponsors.
“I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Sarah’s renewed health than to pass this precious gift of hope onto others in the form of school scholarships to More Than Me,” said Sarah’s mother, Berit.
President and CEO of Make-A-Wish® New Jersey, Tom Weatherall said, “We will grant more than 400 wishes in New Jersey this year. And like the other 7,500 wishes granted since 1983, every wish is unique and personal to each child and family. These wishes motivate and inspire our volunteer base, carry deep fulfillment to our donors, and humble our board and staff on a daily basis. Sarah’s wish surely captures all of these sentiments.”
A celebration of Sarah’s wish and her gift to More Than Me will take place at the Samuel & Josephine Plumeri Wishing Place, Make-A-Wish® New Jersey’s castle in Monroe Township, NJ on Friday, October 11th at 2pm ET.