For a little princess, wishes do come true

SANDY, Utah — Every princess needs a castle.

So a group of young single adults from the Wasatch 2nd Ward, Salt Lake Wasatch Stake, worked together to ensure a 4-year-old cancer patient had a playhouse fit for royalty.

In partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Utah, the young people donated money and "sweat equity" to help finish a decorative, two-story princess playhouse for Emily Cragun. Payday came in the form of an Aug. 31 ceremony in which the little girl in her plaid skirt and flip-flops cut the ribbon above the threshold of her new playhouse — then got to the business of fun.

Emily has medulloblastoma, a cancerous brain tumor that generally afflicts children. To fight the disease, the child has undergone operations and rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. Despite its meanness, cancer hasn't touched Emily's infectious, happy spirit. Her warmth was evident at the evening ribbon cutting where she greeted all her visitors with a broad smile.

"I had a great time…and we came together (as a ward) for a common goal," said Amy Larson, one of the many Wasatch 2nd Ward members involved in Emily's princess playhouse project.

The young single adult ward hosts an annual July 4th breakfast to raise funds for those in need. This year they chose to work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation — a storied organization that grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich lives and instill hope. Through the foundation, the young single adults learned of Emily's wish to have a princess playhouse built in her family's backyard in Sandy, Utah.

Besides donating the breakfast proceeds to the playhouse project, dozens of ward members gathered at the Cragun home on Monday evenings to spend family night painting and decorating Emily's dream house. Once finished, the playhouse was equipped with all the privileges of "backyard royalty," including a child-sized furnished living room, a tiny kitchen, an upstairs playroom — even a door bell.

The young single adult members were both benefactors and beneficiaries in the project, said Wasatch 2nd Ward Bishop John Rich. First, they were blessed by "the opportunity to be of service to this family and this young lady." And second, the ward has enjoyed increased unity as everyone rallied around the project.

Organizers had Emily present her new friends from the Wasatch 2nd Ward with a plaque of appreciation following the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The child performed her regal duty with a smile — but only after being coaxed from her princess playhouse with some gentle nudging. Emily was having too much fun inside. Grown-ups and matters of the world had to wait a moment or two.

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