8-year-old cancer survivor surprised with money raised for dream Hawaii vacation

PEMBROKE PINES, FLA. (WSVN) - An 8-year-old cancer survivor was left completely shocked after the Pembroke Pines community and Make-A-Wish Foundation teamed up to raise funds for her dream trip to Hawaii.

Charlotte Nathonson was invited to share her experience as a cancer survivor to the students at Panther Run elementary School, but what she didn’t know was that everyone there had something else planned.

“On August 6, 2018, everything changed. I got diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. I was in the hospital for 5 months,” said Nathanson.

Students, faculty and staff at the elementary school, along with leaders of the county, presented her over $5,000 they had raised with the help of the Make-A-Wish Foundation to make sure she could enjoy her dream vacation.

“I’m glad they could make it happen. I thought it was awesome,” said Nathanson.

Nathanson and her family moved from Chicago to South Florida last year and said she has always wanted to learn how to surf.

“It’s going to be amazing. We talked in the hospital so much about what it would be like, and imagining it really got us through some of our darkest days,” said Natalie Nathason, Charlotte’s mom, “so to have it come true now is going to be a real dream come true.”

The students at the school knew they wanted to help make a wish come true and were finally able to meet Nathason at an emotional and memorable assembly.

“I’m really touched by her story because I feel like it’s so important to have hope in times like these, especially when you’re sick because you need to keep fighting,” said fifth grader Max Gutierrez, who spearheaded the effort.

Nathanson’s family said fighting is exactly what she did. She still meets with doctors periodically to make sure the cancer has not returned.

Now, after beating the disease, she can finally relax and have fun.

“She’s doing all the things that a little girl is supposed to do,” said Nathanson’s mother.

Nathanson said in addition to learning how to surf, she plans on exploring a volcano, swimming underneath a waterfall and zip lining.

She and family will be heading on vacation on June 1.

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