JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - There's not much better than surprising a child with something they've wished for, as they would say, 'their entire lives.'
However, when that surprise is a once in a lifetime gift they never saw coming, that beats them all.
11-year-old Michaela loves to dance. It was obvious enough from the smile on her face as she performed in front of hundreds at the Jonesboro High School auditorium during their big double-header Tuesday night.
The setting was perfect for her Make-A-Wish unveiling. Michaela, however, was completely unaware of what was about to happen.
Everything had been planned perfectly.
Earlier that week, Michaela had attended a dance clinic with the JHS Dance Team.
She thought their performance Tuesday night was part of that event.
Little did she know, when she was announced as the superstar dancer during the game, an even bigger surprise awaited her.
Michaela was asked to read her award aloud to the crowd.
As she did, the plan for her Make-A-Wish unveiling went into motion. Disney characters galore, lined up behind her, waiting for her to read that last line of the plaque.
"Your wish has been granted with Make-A-Wish," Michaela read.
As the crowd began to cheer, Michaela turned to see Disney characters like Elsa and Olaf waiting to congratulate her.
Michaela's mom Julie told Region 8 News that the unveiling was overwhelming, but in a good way.
"When she read what the plaque she...started crying so...it's very exciting," Julie said. "I know that they were happy tears. not tears because she's not feeling well."
A gymnasium full of people, witness to the power of a wish.
Though it's not easy to tell, behind that bright smile, she doesn't always feel well. Michaela suffers from a number of disorders that attack everything from the connective tissues of her body to her nervous system.
Even walking can be tiring but that doesn't stop her.
"She loves to be active," Julie said. "She doesn't let nothing knock her down."
Ellie Stafford has been raising money for Make-A-Wish for nearly 10 years and sponsored Michaela's gift.
Stafford said similar to Michaela's hard work, all the work put in to Make-A-Wish fundraising is worth it at that one moment when a child realizes their wish is coming true.
"I love just seeing the looks on their faces when we surprise them...this entire organization just warms my heart."
Stafford raised that money for Michaela's Wish in 2014 through social media and a "Dance and Pageant Boot Camp for Make-A-Wish".
Friday, the 17th Annual Have-a-Heart Wish-a-Thon will take place throughout Region 8.
Last year, Region 8 raised $323,725.