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Fiona gets her wish


March 13, 2019

Courtesy photo

Joan Mazek, founder and CEO of Make-A-Wish Colorado, Brent Smith,VP of Marketing at Nutrien in Loveland, posed with Fiona Nugent on Wish Night. In the last 4 years, Nutrien has sponsored 15 "Wish Kids" and this year the company is paying for the entire cost of Nugent's trip to Paris.

Niwot High School sophomore Fiona Nugent’s six months of treatment for cancer are behind her and in front of her now is the anticipation of the upcoming track and field season, continuing to play her cello and creating art. Then, there’s her first trip out of the country thanks to Make-A-Wish Colorado.

Wish Night, the organization’s annual fundraising event, was held on Feb. 22 with hundreds of donors in attendance at the festivities. That evening, Nugent’s gift of a week in Paris was publically announced, but she also gave something during the celebration – a solo cello performance.

Nugent played the prelude and allemande of Bach’s First Cello Suite to the largest audience of her life. Even with a lot of practice under her belt, there was the predictable trepidation that performers experience as an event draws nearer. All of that preparation paid off however, and Nugent said after she played she felt very gratified and received wonderful feedback about her performance.

“It was a blast, I had so much fun,” Nugent said. “I expected to be nervous the whole night, but I think I was very distracted by everything that was going on and the great food. “

Wishes are “game-changers” the foundation’s website reads. “The wish allows children battling critical illnesses to build the hope and strength they need to fight harder and see the impossible become possible. Research shows wishes can give these children a higher chance of survival.”

Early on in treatment, Make-A-Wish offers children five options for their requests: to go somewhere, to be someone, to meet someone, to get something or to give something.

Nugent said, “They do so many great things for kids. The story that got to me the most was of a little boy who had heart problems and he knew he couldn’t have his dream of being a pilot. They got him a pilot’s uniform that fit him and he met all of these pilots and he got to be a pilot for a day.”

Because Nugent had a life-threatening disease, a representative from the organization visited her on the day she began chemotherapy in October 2018.

“I got to think about what I wanted my wish to be all through my chemo experience,” Nugent said, “which made things a lot better.”

In December, Nugent sent an essay to Make-A-Wish Colorado giving them a decision and an explanation of her wish - a trip to Paris. Paris is near and dear to Nugent’s heart because both of her parents had been there and photos from her cousins’ French vacations had piqued her interest. To Nugent, the winning combination of her own loves in life – food, art, and music had Paris speaking to her loud and clear as the destination to go to for her first international trip.

Fiona and her parents, Teresa and Phil, will spend a week this summer experiencing the city of love, visiting the Louvre Museum, Musee d’Orsay, the Eiffel Tower, and other excursions, all provided for by the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Colorado.

Nugent said. “I love food and I love cooking. My favorite class now is my culinary nutrition class. So one of the things I’m really looking forward to there is taking a one-day cooking class and going through the marketplace to get all of the ingredients.”

Courtesy photo

Fiona Nugent’s dad snapped this picture on the day she learned her wish to visit Paris had been granted by Make-A-Wish Colorado. She’s holding napkins with the Audrey Hepburn quote, “Paris is always a good idea” in front of a photograph of Paris that hangs in the family’s home.

This past December, a painting by Nugent was selected by the Children’s Hospital of Colorado to be included in their holiday card set, which raises money for the hospital’s oncology department. Being an artist, the opportunity to see centuries of art in Paris is exhilarating to Nugent.

One of Nugent’s passions is running. In her freshman year, she ran cross country on NHS’s team, but because of her illness, she had to take a break. When asked about her first foray in the world of track and field she said, “I’m feeling great. I’m definitely taking it all slowly but I’m excited to progress. It’s great to be back on a team with the school.”

Now that her own wish is coming true, she’s thinking about becoming a Make-A-Wish ambassador and working with other children who are experiencing critical illnesses. Another thing she’s looking forward to is a leadership conference she’s attending in Denver this summer.

Nugent said of her first international journey, “I can’t wait to go and bring back my own stories.”


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