Royal Oak girl makes Make-A-Wish history
Not many 11-year-olds can say they've been whisked away from class only to be surrounded by adoring fans as the paparazzi try and catch a glimpse.
But for Emily Sobeck, it's more than just a wish come true.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation Michigan is celebrating its 30th anniversary and Sobeck was its 8,000th wish granted. Saturday night, there was no talk of being ill or going to the doctor for treatment — it was all glamor with a red carpet entrance at The Wish Ball at the MGM Grand Detroit that rivaled a Hollywood premiere.
The Wish Ball is Make-A-Wish Foundation's signature event to help raise money for children across the state who are battling life threatening diseases and Emily was one of the stars.
The second oldest of five children, Emily started her journey two years ago when she was diagnosed with leukemia.
Leukemia is the most common cancer in children and teens, accounting for almost 1 out of 3 cancers, according to the American Cancer Society.
Emily's mother, Francesca Sobeck, admitted she wasn't sure she wanted to submit her daughter's name after her doctor recommended the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
"I thought it was silly. We have all these things we have to deal with and the last thing you want to do is play make believe," Sobeck said. "But after, I saw how this experience really helped with Emily's healing process."
Emily's wish was to become a celebrity for a day and her road to stardom began Sept. 26.
That day, "she went to school and then they came and got her and said there was important celebrity things that she needed to do," Sobeck said. Emily attends Shrine Catholic School in Royal Oak. "The students were waiting in the stairwell cheering and holding up signs telling her how much they loved her."
The celebrity "business" included getting her hair styled at a salon in Birmingham and shopping at The Somerset Collection. Fans filled all three levels of the swanky mall, hoping to get an autograph from the little star.
Emily's mom was overwhelmed with all the people who showed their support.
"Make-A -Wish needed 30 people to help out with the event, but they were so shocked to see the response they got," Sobeck said. "When we got there even the shoppers that didn't know anything about it supported and joined in to make Emily's day special. Just seeing everyone and all the love was incredible."
Even when family and friends found out Emily was battling leukemia, they all found a way to help the Sobeck family.
"I can't believe all of the support that our family has gotten ... from people preparing meals and walking our dog. People have chipped in to do so many things. It makes us feel special to have such overwhelming support," Sobeck said.
While being accompanied by cheerleaders and bodyguards, Emily wore a sparkly blue dress from Macy's, which she gushed about being short in the front and long in the back.
For her big debut, she performed live with the pop band Mel Ball and the Colours. Emily wanted to sing her favorite song, "Best Day of My Life," because of the lyrics.
"Make-A-Wish has really been a blessing to our family," Sobeck said. "Your mom will tell you how much they love you and it's coming from a parent, but when you see the love from everyone else, you feel a sense of peace."
To be able to live life as a celebrity for a day or two — most would consider this to be a great ending to any story.
"Witnessing Emily's wish come true is closure to this chapter in our life. We are healing," Sobeck said.
Emily had a special message for all of her supporters as well, before she carried out her final duties of being a celebrity.
"I want to thank my fans and Make-A-Wish Foundation for making my wish come true and maybe I can inspire others one day."