India Brooks is a force to be reckoned with. An honor roll student, artist extraordinaire, and aspiring fashion designer (not to mention business owner), the talented 17-year-old has incredible spirit, “You can’t let things slow you down, you just have to keep going.” This is sage advice from anyone, but coming from India, the statement packs extra punch.
India has much more on her plate than the average high school student, undergoing monthly blood transfusions for sickle cell anemia, monitoring pseudoxanthoma elasticum disorder, and pursuing a new-technology remedy for septo-optic dysplasia, which is a vision disability caused by her optic nerves not fully developing. But, with a huge smile and killer determination, nothing is slowing India down; “I work hard every day.”
When Make-A-Wish® America learned of India’s story, the organization set a plan into motion. India has grown up with a number of Steve Harvey shows, but her favorite is Family Feud, so she chose her wish accordingly. Off to LA for the real deal!
The Family Feud team and Steve were beyond excited to welcome India, her mother Yolanda, and her brother Nigel into their family for a day on set. India described the experience as “absolutely wonderful” and was thrilled to be at rehearsals and then the live show, where she had a chance to chat with Steve during commercials.
The Brooks family also got to go up on stage to congratulate the day’s winners as the show wrapped. And did we mention birthday cupcakes? The day in whole was a celebration of a very special guest of honor.
Yolanda had only praise for the experience, crediting Make-A-Wish® for their excellent handling of every detail in order to create an amazing experience for her daughter. She also expressed gratitude for Steve’s appreciation and encouragement of India’s art; “He helped her believe in her art, which is so important – people are in awe of her ability when they learn about her vision disability. God really did give her a gift.”
India’s wish experience came on the heels of another emotional journey. In February, she had the opportunity to test eSight glasses, which are electronic glasses that restore or enhance sight for people living with vision loss. “With the glasses, it was the first time I could see my mom clearly. We were both crying because it was so emotional and so amazing,” India shared.
Yolanda is ever hopeful and supportive of India’s dreams to work within a school system by day so that she can set off her own fashion designing business, which is her true passion. She’s also hopeful that sharing India’s story will inspire other kids facing tough obstacles to keep fighting.
The Make-A-Wish® Foundation has been changing the lives of children diagnosed with serious illness since its establishment in 1980. The cornerstone of the foundation’s vision is to find a way to grant the wish of every eligible child, and because of the dedicated efforts of all involved in this powerful organization, it is estimated that one wish is granted every 34 minutes. Against any odds or obstacles, Make-A-Wish® strives to make the world better, one important wish at a time.