Make-A-Wish Makes Niwot High Schooler’s Dream Come True

February 21, 2019
Niwot High sophomore Fiona Nugent will play cello at Make-A-Wish Foundation Colorado's 2019 Wish Night on Friday. Nugent, 15, will have her wish granted in May and travel to Paris.

If you go

What: 2019 Wish Night

When: 6 to 10 p.m. Friday

Where: Hyatt Regency at the Colorado Convention Center, 650 15th St, Denver

Cost: $250; purchase at wish2019.givesmart.com or by calling 303-750-9474.

Fiona Nugent, a 15-year-old sophomore at Niwot High School, had to stop running cross country when she began chemotherapy last February, but it couldn’t stop her from playing the cello.

“There was less time to practice it, obviously, but it often helped me take my mind off of everything,” she said. “It was really nice.”

Her spirits were lifted even further when her doctor at Children’s Hospital told her she would have an opportunity to make a wish with Make-A-Wish Foundation Colorado.

As a cellist, painter and aspiring chef, Nugent immediately knew she wanted to use her wish to travel outside of the United States for the first time, but she couldn’t decide between England, Italy and France.

To help her decide, her dad, Phil Nugent, hung a world map on the wall of her hospital room so they could daydream about where they might go when she finally beat her abdominal cancer.

“It was a huge lift,” he said. “It was sort of a light at the end of the tunnel.

After six months of chemo, Nugent ultimately decided her wish was to travel to Paris. Instead of going to Disney World or meeting her favorite celebrity, Nugent wanted to see the sights she learned about in history class and stand before paintings she had only seen in books. But mostly she was excited to try authentic French food.

“I’m really excited for the whole experience,” she said. “It’s the culture, the music, the language but I can’t forget about the food. One of the things I’m really hoping to do is take a cooking class.”

Her dad’s only worry is she won’t want to come back.

“We talk about history, politics and architecture and go to the Denver Art Museum a lot, so this is going to be like that on steroids,” he said. “I remember going abroad for the first time when I was 20 and being blown away. She might not want to come home again.”

Now in remission for six months, Make-A-Wish Colorado not only told Nugent that the board agreed to send her on a weeklong trip to Paris in May, but they also want her to play her cello at the organization’s annual fundraiser, known as “Wish Night,” Friday at the Hyatt Regency at the Colorado Convention Center.

Nugent, who will be playing the playing the prelude and allemande of Bach’s “Cello Suite No. 1,” will be joined by two other survivors of life-threatening illnesses. A trio of wish girls, ages 9, 17 and 24, will end the evening’s entertainment with a special dance performance to Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Cinderella” alongside their fathers.

“Research shows children who have wishes granted can build the physical and emotional strength they need to fight a critical illness,” said Doug Askam, Make-A-Wish Colorado board chairman. “The hope that a wish offers helps to improve their quality of life, and the wish kids who will be performing at Wish Night are shining examples of the powerful impact a wish can have.”

John Spina: 303-473-1389, jspina@times-call.com or twitter.com/jsspina24