The Make-A-Wish trip is for Shelby Boyer, but she refuses to go alone.
The 18-year-old Red Land High School senior has been battling Hodgkin's lymphoma since being diagnosed with the cancer at age 16.
The battle and her treatments have caused her to miss several performances as a member of her school's color guard.
Because the disease is life-threatening, Shelby Boyer can have a special request granted by the Make-A-Wish, an organization that fulfills wishes of children with such medical conditions.
For her wish, Shelby Boyer chose to travel to the 2014 Winter Guard International Color Guard Championships in Dayton, Ohio, and asked that her 14 teammates and four coaches go with her so they can compete in the event, said Ann Waltman, regional manager for Make-A-Wish Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia, which has an office in Springettsbury Township. She said Make-A-Wish engaged in major fundraising efforts to grant Shelby Boyer's wish.
Second family: "This team is my second family," she said. "We spend so much time together. They've been there for me and it's an honor to do something this big, not just for me, but for them, too. I don't have time for self-pity. I just learned to keep going and never stop."
The competition runs from Wednesday to Sunday, April 6, Waltman said.
"Shelby didn't want anything just for herself," Waltman said. "But we still wanted to do something special for her, do some fun stuff to kick off the wish for the whole team."
So Make-A-Wish teamed up with Empire Beauty School, also in Springettsbury Township, to give Shelby Boyer a makeover with a new hairstyle and makeup and to give her teammates manicures Wednesday.
Empire students gave the beauty treatments as part of Empire's give-back program, which does activities to benefit the community. This marked Empire's first time participating in a Make-A-Wish event, said Jennifer Holtzapple, the school's lead educator.
Proud mom: Penny Boyer, Shelby's mother, said she is proud of her daughter's determination as the teenager endured multiple chemotherapy treatments, with one of them running 30 weeks long. She said her daughter's health has improved and the latest scans done for cancer detection have been negative, though doctors continue to do blood tests to monitor the student's condition.
Penny, of Newberry Township, said she also admires her daughter's maturity and selflessness. Shelby Boyer is also a spokeswoman for Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital's Four Diamonds Fund, which supports pediatric cancer patients and their families.
"She has taught me more about life in the last 18 months than I've learned in the 46 years of my life," Penny Boyer said.
Carol Bieler, director of Red Land High School's color guard group, said the team can't thank Shelby Boyer enough for including them in her wish. The teenager's color guard teammates, freshman Lilly Hatcher, 15, and senior Maria Villafane, 17, both said Shelby Boyer's request shows how helpful she is and how much she values their group.
"It's just awesome how she made this wish, how she chose to benefit a whole group of people, not just herself," Maria said. "She is so sweet."
—Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at firstname.lastname@example.org.