BOISE -- A Meridian teen was in for a treat at the Boise Towne Square Mall on Friday.
Some of Annelise Mason's dreams became reality, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Macy's. She has a life-threatening disease, but once Annelise found out her wish was being granted, her spirits were lifted. And Friday's event - well that was just icing on the cake.
KTVB's Morgan Boydston, who is a Make-A-Wish wish granter herself, was there for the surprise Friday evening. She says Annelise was ecstatic - and so was everyone who jumped in to help spread the spirit of generosity.
"Just gives her some hope. Early on she didn't know what her life was going to look like. And we still don't," Annelise's dad, Blake Mason, said.
Friday was Macy's National Believe Day, a decade-long partnership with Make-A-Wish, and staff at Boise's Macy's chose to help with what's called a 'wish enhancement' to keep Annelise excited before her true wish comes true next month.
When Annelise arrived at the store Friday evening, she was greeted by a welcoming party: Macy's staff, Make-A-Wish staff, her Wish Granters, Boise State marketing students who helped with the event all lined the entrance to welcome her!
"I was really surprised," Annelise told KTVB. "I wasn't really expecting much but this is definitely awesome."
"She had no idea. So she's just got a little light in her eye that she hasn't had for a while as much, so it's neat as a parent to see that," her dad said.
At 'home base' - the fitting room area in the ladies department - the 17-year-old was greeted with some of her favorite goodies like Starbucks beverages, gummy worms, cupcakes, and cardboard cut-outs of Justin Bieber and the Vampire Diaries cast.
"It's all donated from Macy's and it's from great vendors here in the mall," Macy's Boise Towne Square Mall Vice President Store Manager, Jeremy Judd, said. "Her favorite candies and foods and she'll have a shopping spree for her to really enjoy her favorite brands and vendors that we sell here at Macy's so she can enjoy her vacation in January."
She started her adventure once she got to home base, where she found out her evening was going to be modeled after her favorite board game.
"Her favorite board game is Monopoly so we built a treasure hunt based on the Monopoly game where she'll earn Monopoly money to buy real products in our store from her favorite vendors," Judd added.
Annelise was first taken upstairs to the 'Believe Station' where she wrote a letter to Santa, which actually benefits the very foundation granting her wish. For every letter Macy's receives, the company will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish up to $1 million to grant the wishes of children with critical illnesses. On National Believe Day, the company doubles their donations to Make-A-Wish and donates $2 for every letter written and dropped off at their Santa mailbox or online.
Annelise then followed wherever the Monopoly Community Chest and Chance cards led her: from the make-up counter where she and her best friend got make-overs, to the shoe department where she received a new pair of boots, to the luggage area where she was gifted a suitcase, travel pillow, jewelry and more.
"The luggage and everything inside of it is just to help you travel," Judd told Annelise as she opened the suitcase.
"This is the perfect time to get her prepared for her big trip," Make-A-Wish President and CEO, Sarah Shinn, said. "Sometimes it takes quite a while to plan the wish and so things like this Believe Day and getting Annelise ready for her trip is just one more step to help her maintain that excitement for the upcoming wish."
Wrapping up the treasure hunt: a dressing room stocked with her favorite brand of clothes that she'll be able to take on her trip. Everything she was gifted relates to her true wish coming up next month when she heads to beautiful Hawaii with her family and best friend.
"I just knew Hawaii was the place to go. Relaxing and stuff just sounds awesome just to get my mind off of everything," Annelise said.
Annelise was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was just 3 years old.
"It's basically a life-threatening disease that affects my kidneys, lungs, my sinuses, pretty much everything. Mucus builds up and just makes it a lot easier for me to get sick," she added.
"She's led a normal life, as normal as you can with a chronic disease. She's a trooper, she's tough. That's what's kept her kind of going because she's got so much spunk and life about her," Blake said. "She misses a lot of school, it's a fight to get her work done because the treatments and stuff, really, they can take hours."
Blake says Annelise has to take multiple treatments per day every day.
The excitement of her trip - and now this event- are making each day more bearable.
"I think it's definitely given me hope and something to look forward to," Annelise told KTVB. "Every day is kind of difficult sometimes so I think having something to look forward to just makes it a little bit easier."
"It's an amazing day for her and our family," Blake added. "We're just humbled by all the outpouring."
"A wish is not just a moment in time. A wish is a lasting wish and that means the kids get to experience a lot of things that help them get excited to lead up to the wish, experience the wish and after the wish they will forever remain part of make a wish family," Shinn added.
Shinn says the foundation would always like more volunteers and donations to help wishes like Annelise's continue to come true.
"This year, Make-A-Wish Idaho will grant 93 wishes. But there are more kids out there, which makes partnerships like Macy's so important," Shinn added.