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Alanna's wish becomes her reality

Growing up, Cincinnati native Alanna Martella always watched the news with her family. She dreamed of one day sitting behind the anchor desk herself. When it came time to decide her heartfelt wish, she didn’t hesitate— she wanted to shadow the anchors of NBC’s Today Show.

  • Alanna visiting with Hoda Kotb

  • Alanna on her WLWT5 Set

  • Alanna reporting on WLWT5

  • Alanna at the TODAY Show

  • Alanna at the TODAY Show

Just months before learning she was eligible for a wish, Alanna was a typical high school senior. In an instant, everything changed.

“Out of nowhere I felt like my stomach was on fire, it literally felt like my insides were on fire,” she said.

At first, doctors diagnosed her with a stomach bug, but her condition quickly deteriorated, and Alanna went into respiratory arrest. Doctors were able to revive Alanna and she was ultimately diagnosed with volvulus, a critical and rare digestive system disease. Alanna had emergency surgery to remove 15 feet of her small intestine. It was a long road to recovery.

“I missed so much of my senior year of high school,” she said.

As Alanna started her freshman year of college at Ohio University, her wish to visit New York City and shadow anchors at the Today Show came true in January of 2010.

“It was incredible. We had a limo that picked us up and took us to the airport.”

Alanna met with the producers of the show before it began and got a behind-the-scenes-look at how a national live television show comes together. She also got to spend time with some of her TODAY news idols including Hoda Kotb, Natalie Morales and Meredith Viera.

“I knew once I was there and saw all the hustle and bustle, I knew this is what I wanted to do,” she said.

Today, Alanna is up bright and early as the weekday morning traffic anchor for WLWT News 5 Today, the NBC affiliate in Cincinnati.

“I come into work at 3:30 a.m. and I’m done by typically noon or one,” she said.

She said her wish changed her life and helped set her on the trajectory she’s on today.

“For me, it was one of the darkest periods of my life and I thought there was no light at the tunnel and being able to not be sick for a day and experience what could be, that’s now become, it changes your outlook and gives you a ray of hope.”

Alanna said she’ll never forget the words one of the TODAY anchors shared with her— “Treat everyone with kindness no matter how bad of a day you might be having.” Words she lives by, both on and off camera.

To learn more about Alanna, visit:

It changes your outlook and gives you a ray of hope. ”

— Alanna

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