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A Wish Mom's Story | Hannah's Journey

Hannah celebrates her wish coming true with UCF

No parent can ever be prepared to receive the devastating news that their child has a critical illness. Karen Culler is one of them.

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Her world changed in an instant. One moment, she was contemplating where she and her 11-year-old daughter Hannah would go for ice cream. The next, Hannah collapsed in the pediatrician’s office during a routine appointment. Hannah was later diagnosed with a debilitating cardiac condition and a severe autoimmune disorder.

“Hannah was a perfectly happy, healthy little girl,” shared Karen. “It was instant just like that. She never walked out of the office that day and she's never been the same since.”

Hannah’s condition can be triggered by almost anything; certain foods, pollens, perfumes and sudden temperature changes. That means she can rarely leave home and can’t go to school. She spends up to 200 days in the hospital every year, which led to her falling more than a year behind in her at-home schoolwork.

Despite her education setbacks, Hannah still dreamed of being a pediatric emergency medicine physician. She knew she wanted to attend UCF Medical School since the 5th grade.

Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky & Indiana brought Hannah’s wish to life. Hannah was welcomed onto the UCF campus by cheerleaders, got to sit in on classes, had her own VIP parking space, went through the iconic white lab coat ceremony, and even practiced medicine on a real patient.

“Next to having my two children, that experience was the happiest day of my life because it was the happiest day of Hannah's,” said Karen.

Hannah’s wish inspired her to continue pursuing her dream. Since returning from Florida, she has enrolled in college pre-med classes online.

“Her wish offered a surprising prescriptive benefit of its own. It gave her energy and stamina we had not seen prior to her wish,” Karen reflected. “It gave her something beyond what medicine was able to do for her. It gave her a reason to keep fighting.”

Today, Hannah is on a series of clinical trials that have proven helpful in decreasing the number of her anaphylactic episodes.


Gift hope to wish families, like Hannah and Karen's, this holiday season

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  • Hannah is welcomed by UCF students

  • Hannah shows off her VIP parking spot

  • Hannah expereinces the White Coat Ceremony

  • "Thank you for making my wish come true." -Hannah, wish kid

  • Hannah takes a wish selfie in her white coat

  • Hannah checks on a patient

  • Hannah celebrates her wish at the University of Central Florida

Her wish offered a surprising prescriptive benefit of its own. It gave her energy and stamina we had not seen prior to her wish ”

— Karen, wish mom

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June 25, 2012 - 11:25 AM

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