Lizzy Davis is floating on cloud nine today, thanks to Magic Moments and UAB Health Administration students.
On April 19, UAB students gave Davis the experience of a lifetime, gifting the young leukemia survivor and her family a free trip to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando.
Davis, 11, thought she was handing out trophies to winners of UAB’s 13th annual Master of Science in Health Administration (MSHA) Classic Golf Tournament at Bent Brook Golf Club in Bessemer, Alabama. Davis watched in disbelief as, suddenly, UAB students in brightly colored Disney costumes surrounded her. Pink, peach and purple balloons wafted upward as Lizzie’s name was called out in congratulations.
“I was really, really surprised,” Davis said. “I’m very excited, very happy. I can’t wait to see all the characters. My favorite is Minnie Mouse.”
Davis’s mother was equally thrilled.
“This day is so special,” said Brandi Davis, who works at Children’s Hospital of Alabama in Birmingham. “This trip is so unexpected. This is a blessing. My first wish was granted, my child beat cancer. We beat it, thank God.”
Everyone was feeling the magic, said Jonathan Pilgrim, vice president of philanthropy for the 53rd MSHA class. Pilgrim, completing his first year of graduate studies at UAB, said the opportunity to help children like Lizzie was the reason he chose his field of study.
“Lizzie touched our hearts,” said Pilgrim, who earned his bachelor’s degree at UAB. “She’s been rattled by the disease of cancer. We wanted to impact her life and her family’s life positively.”
First-year MSHA student Haley Wright was master of ceremonies and thrilled to be part of the Davis’s special day.
“Events like this for Lizzy are the heartbeat behind our organization,” said Amy Cowling, program coordinator for Magic Moments, which is part of Children’s of Alabama. Magic Moments assists children ages 4 to 18.
“I so much enjoy interacting with our families and making kids feel like they’re not bound by a diagnosis or a situation,” said Cowling, who earned a degree in human development and family studies from Auburn University. “We strictly serve children in Alabama who are residents or receive their primary healthcare here in Alabama.”
Magic Moments has granted wishes for children in each of Alabama’s 67 counties.
The annual golf tournament provides MSHA graduate students a valuable outlet for philanthropy and professional development opportunities, said Randa Hall, associate chair and assistant professor for the Department of Health Services Administration in the School of Health Professions at UAB.
“We think it’s important for our future healthcare leaders to take on a leadership role, and give back to the communities where they live and serve,” said Hall, who has worked at UAB for 17 years. “Our MSHA students gave many volunteer hours. They went out to organizations and asked for support, set up meetings and calls. They learned how important it is to participate.”
The gift from Magic Moments and UAB students will help close the difficult chapter of her daughter’s illness, Brandi Davis said.
“The day she got diagnosed with cancer, we were supposed to go to Disney World,” Davis said. “Instead, we found out she had leukemia. We beat this, and now we’re going to Disney World.”