At six months old, Olivia Grace Jones was diagnosed with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a heart disease with a cause that remains unknown.
The debilitating disease stretches the heart chamber, making it thin, weak, and unable to contract properly. Eventually, the heart can’t pump as much blood forward as it normally should, causing fluid to back up in the lungs and build up in the body, resulting in heart failure.
But Olivia, now 14, used her fascination with elephants to help take her mind off her medical condition and treatments. She made frequent trips to the zoo when she was younger and often occupied herself with all things elephant.
Olivia’s parents, Kevin Jones, 54 and Schonay Barrett-Jones, 49, of Silver Spring, Maryland, said when Olivia was asked her dream, she said, “I want to go where the elephants live.”
It was soon clear that Olivia wanted to actually go to the elephant’s kingdom, South Africa.
On Friday, June 8, Olivia was amazed to learn during her Farquhar Middle School eighth-grade farewell ceremony that her wish to go to South Africa to see elephants will come true this summer.
“To see the look on her face — something just welled up in me,” Barrett-Jones said. “I’m very excited for her to finally get to have this dream come true. She has been talking about elephants her whole life and getting to see the elephants where they live — I’m so grateful for Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic for making this dream come true.”
“It was challenging keeping this secret from everyone else,” Jones said. “Seeing this moment get pulled off was really wonderful and we are so appreciative of Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic for making this dream come true for our family.”