f you could have one wish, what would it be?
Emily Hume knew the answer to that question, and hers will soon come true.
Make-A-Wish recently granted the Seymour Middle School eighth-grader an opportunity to be a part of the Miss America Pageant in September.
“They said, ‘The sky is the limit,’” Emily said of what she’s been told by representatives from the nonprofit.
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The 13-year-old will be accompanied to the event in Atlantic City by her parents and sister, although the details are still being finalized. She knows, however, she’ll get to ride in a limo and will even be a guest at the Miss Indiana Pageant in June.
“They just said there are lots of surprises,” she said. “I might even get my own crown.”
Make-A-Wish grants the wishes of children between the ages of 2½ and 18 who suffer from life-threatening medical conditions. Since 1983, the Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio chapter has granted 13,000 wishes to children, such as trips to Colts games and Disney World.
In early July 2013, Emily suffered from a form of cardiomyopathy after a virus attacked her heart.
After one failed attempt, she underwent a heart transplant March 21, 2014, at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis.
Before receiving the donor heart, Emily was attached to a pump called a Berlin Heart that connected through her abdomen to keep her heart strong. To this day, doctors still don’t know what caused the virus.
“I don’t think they ever will,” Emily’s mom, Linda Hume, said.
During that time period, Emily experienced setbacks and triumphs.
She went to school and maintained high grades through Riley’s school program, spent holidays away from home and reached minor goals such as walking for the first time after receiving her new heart. This was all done while her friends, family and community rallied for her in Seymour with events in her honor.
On April 25, 2014, she was allowed to come home to recover. Her “home-iversary,” as Emily called it, was celebrated Saturday — a little more than a week after she was granted her wish at the Make-A-Wish Gala in Indianapolis.
At the event, she wasn’t quite sure if she would find out. But it wasn’t long before Miss Indiana Audra Casterline and 2009 Miss America Katie Stam Irk, a former Jackson County resident, came up behind her to tell her the good news.
“They had mics and started talking. I didn’t know what to do, so I just smiled,” Emily said. Stam Irk even let Emily try on her crown.
Emily said she chose to go to the pageant because ever since she was little, she’s been into “girly stuff.”
“I know it’s not all about the dresses and jewels. It’s about who you are. But when I was little, I didn’t really know that. So my sister and I would wear sashes and dress up and pretend that we did the Miss America Pageant,” she said, giving a parade wave and a smile.
The Miss America Pageant is a few months away, but Emily said she’s already been following it on Instagram to see who is competing.
Besides meeting the contestants, she said she hopes to see the two hosts — Chris Harrison, who also hosts the TV show “The Bachelor,” and Lara Spencer, anchor for ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
“I love ‘Good Morning America,’” Emily said.
In the meantime, she continues to focus on becoming stronger physically and healthier. She visits Riley every six to eight weeks, has blood tests done locally and takes 25 to 30 pills a day, including some anti-rejection pills she’ll be on the rest of her life.
She also had a heart catheterization done a few months ago, which involved a tube being inserted into her heart. The results will be compared to next year’s test to see how the heart is doing.
Linda Hume said doctors have found few issues.
“So far, so good,” she said.
Emily has settled back into her roles as a student, athlete and sister.
She plays on the middle school golf team (she uses a pull cart instead of carrying her clubs), attends school regularly (math isn’t so easy, she said) and went on a spring break trip.
The doctors told her not to travel too far, so the family went to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, where she rode a roller coaster.
“I was just on there praying like, ‘Oh please heart, don’t stop now.’ It was just going so fast,” she said of the excitement, adding that despite her apprehension the ride was a lot of fun.
Despite how far she’s come, Emily said she still has a way to go physically. By now, she was hoping to be back to her old self again.
“I just want to be completely back to normal,” she said.
Although it’s difficult to explain, she said, she wouldn’t take back the experience.
“I’m not glad that it happened, but I know it’s affected me in a good way,” she said.
The Hume family said they eventually will look into writing the family of the donor heart. It’s an anonymous letter, and the donor’s family can choose to reply if they want.
“We haven’t done that yet, but eventually, we probably will at some point,” Jim Hume said.
Looking back a year ago, Linda Hume said, she wonders sometimes how they made it through the emotional journey.
“We’re just very, very thankful; but faith leads us; faith, prayers, the community,” she said. “Lots of prayers.”
“I know it’s not all about the dresses and jewels. It’s about who you are. But when I was little, I didn’t really know that. So my sister and I would wear sashes and dress up and did the Miss America Pageant.”
Emily Hume, on why she wanted to see the Miss America Pageant