BY HAILEY MINTON
Amalee Done made a beeline to the horses when she first arrived at Double Ott Ranch. She was there to have her wish granted to become a rodeo queen through Western Wishes. A lot of people volunteered their time, resources, and talents to make the day special for her. Several local rodeo queens came and talked to her about what it was like to prepare for, compete in, and be a rodeo queen. First, she got her hair and makeup done in true rodeo queen fashion. Amalee laughed and talked about being a rodeo queen and asked many questions about the ranch, the horses, and all the people in the room. Her eyes were filled with excitement, and she described it as the best thing that has ever happened to her. Afterwards, she dressed in a sparkling queening outfit and hat. They had a photoshoot so she could have pictures to autograph for the upcoming rodeo. After the photo shoot, she had a riding lesson.
Western Wishes was founded in 1994 by Donnalyn Quintana. Rachel Bitton had cancer as a child and was one of the first kids to be granted a wish. Today, she runs the Utah Chapter of Western Wishes. It’s like Make-A-Wish Foundation, but they’re not affiliated. “We like to raise our wish kids up to be ambassadors of hope for other kids… We don’t grant a wish and walk away; we like to stay in contact and become a family.” The first wish kid in Utah wanted to talk with his favorite cowboy. The phone call lasted about a minute, but it made the biggest difference in this boy’s life. Rachel explained it’s easy to pass over and justify not having time, but people can have a big impact with just a little effort. The children who have wishes granted don’t necessarily have terminal illnesses. The foundation grants wishes for children who may have suffered from an accident, injury, disease, or any type of hardship. One family’s baby passed away from SIDS, and Western Wishes brought the older siblings very nice blankets that someone made to comfort them.
Rachel said, “One thing I’ve learned is whatever needs to happen for these kids will happen.” The plans to grant Amalee’s wish started with having a photoshoot, but the community came together to make the experience so much more than that. “People are so amazing… miracle after miracle happens. I stress myself into oblivion, but things really come together in the end. People step in and take care of things. It’s amazing to be a part of.” They’re always looking for kids to whom they can grant wishes.
If you think you know someone who could use a Western Wish granted, please contact Rachel Bitton at 801- 791-1867