For more than 30 years, the Miami Herald's Wish Book campaign has been a holiday blessing for needy families in our community. Each year, readers respond generously, granting simple wishes and making lives better for ailing, disabled, elderly and needy individuals and families throughout South Florida.
Look for the Wish Book stories in the Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald this holiday season, starting on Thanksgiving Day. Here are previews of a few of the stories:
Isabella Rabinowitz, 8, of Coconut Creek
Claudia and Lawrence Rabinowitz would do anything for their adopted daughter Isabella, who before turning 2 was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome. They feed her, clothe her, bathe her and help her up and down the stairs, things she can't do for herself due to the neurological disorder.
At 8 years old and 91 pounds, Isabella is the joy of her parents' lives. But lifting her can be difficult, especially for her mother, a cancer survivor recovering from complications of a double mastectomy. When Isabella's dad is working 12-hour shifts as a Baptist Health nurse, helping Isabella around the family's two-story apartment in Coconut Creek can be especially tough.
The Family Network on Disabilities of Broward County nominated the family for Miami Herald Wish Book, which helps families and individuals in need during the holidays. The family could use a mobile height adjustable changing table, a reclining disabled bath lift chair and a stair lift.
Kelida Kenol, 14, of Fort Lauderdale
Enthusiastic and witty, Kelida Kenol, 14, is a charmer with big, beautiful eyes. She recently underwent surgery to have a brain tumor removed. The tumor proved to be cancerous and has metastasized into her spine. Her post surgery recovery has been a challenge -- yet she has remained alert and engaged. Kelida has been in the hospital since September; her prognosis is encouraging but she'll require aggressive radiation and chemotherapy.
Kelida's parents are deceased, and she and her two teenage brothers are being raised by her grandmother. Kelida's bond with her grandmother is extremely strong: The grandmother has never left Kelida's side since the tumors were detected, and Kelida, in turn, has done her best to see that her grandmother has been taken care of.
Kelida needs bedroom furniture and is also requesting a Galaxy tablet or iPod and a cell phone.
Emanuel Diaz-Mairena, 6, of Northwest Miami-Dade
Before July 10 this year, Emanuel was your everyday kindergarten kid on summer break before the big one: First Grade. "He was very active," says his father, Joel Diaz. "He was one of those kids who liked to jump on the couch, jump on the bed, go outside and come back in."
Now, post-July 10: “He’s more calm. He’s more into watching movies," Diaz said. Emanuel is also recovering from a catastrophic accident from which his doctors had little expectations for a full recovery.
Emanuel’s mother can’t work, as she has to take care of her son’s needs. His 28-year-old father is a valet parking attendant at South Beach's SLS Hotel. Meanwhile, Emanuel’s brother Richard, 8, cries at night, traumatized by what he saw that afternoon when a car barreled toward his baby brother.
"They are a very humble family," said Mairelys Hernandez, a social work services program consultant for Children’s Medical Services who recommended the Diaz family for the Miami Herald’s Wish Book. Among his needs: a tablet and bedroom set.
Lesly, 4, and Alan, 3, of Miami-Dade
Ruth and Jose Herrera are doing their best to raise two children with special needs, but it hasn’t been easy. During the past four years, they’ve taken in Lesly, a 4-year-old girl with cerebral palsy, and Alan, a 3-year-old with autism. Born to Ruth's cousin in the Dominican Republic, they are now Ruth and Jose's babies.
But as Ruth lost her job recently with Lesly’s frequent hospitalizations, and self-employed Jose works hard to bring in what he can, the Herreras could use some help this holiday season. Lesly loves music, but her radio/CD player broke. Alan loves Thomas the Tank Engine toys.
This hard-working, resilient family could use diapers, food and money to help keep up with the bills.