Ritz Carlton staff creates Make A Wish magic for Wisconsin family
January 16, 2017
BEAVER CREEK — Isabelle Dunai's grin was as big as the Gore Range when she learned her Make a Wish wish would include skiing in Beaver Creek.
Isabelle, 17, is not a complicated young woman. Her initial wish was to visit the mountains, enjoy a coffee by the fire and watch it snow.
The Dunai family spent their Make A Wish weekend at the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, enjoying that and so much more.
"It was such a magical experience. The staff at the Ritz-Carlton was amazing," said Rebecca Dunai, Isabelle's, Claudia Rose, 13, and 10-year old Simone's mom.
“It’s one of the most magical experiences I’ve ever had, with some of the most magical people I’ve ever met.”Isabelle Dunai
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"Everyone has been so gracious and kind," Isabelle said.
No handbook for this
The Make A Wish Foundation grants wishes of children with life threatening illnesses, about 250 a year in Colorado. Many are from Colorado kids who want to meet Denver Broncos or Colorado Rockies. Some are kids in other states who have never seen snow and want to enjoy the Rocky Mountains, said Jennifer Getsch with Make a Wish's Colorado chapter.
The Dunai crew lives in Waunakee, Wisconsin, near Madison. The Make a Wish people in Wisconsin contacted Make a Wish people in Colorado, who work with the Ritz in Denver regularly.
"The Ritz is a great partner," Getsch said.
The Denver Ritz sent the wish along to Amy Moser-Harrison, director of sales and marketing with the Ritz Bachelor Gulch, who placed is in the loving hands of Demetra Kayne.
"We were very fortunate to have their wish here with us," Kayne said.
There's not a handbook for this sort of thing. Kayne started with Isabelle's wish: mountains, coffee, campfires and snow. From there, things just got better.
"Each department blew it out of the water," Kayne said.
Ski with me
They were on what they thought was just going to be a scenic Beaver Creek gondola ride on Saturday. This is Colorado and if it's worth doing, and it is, it's worth doing it all.
The next thing Isabelle knew, she was in the tender care of Beaver Creek Ambassador New New Wallace and her hand picked crew. They put Isabelle in the special monoski to ski Beaver Creek. She felt the rush of the wind and snow on her smiling face.
"It's one of the most magical experiences I've ever had, with some of the most magical people I've ever met," Isabelle said. "They surprised me."
"My favorite part of the trip was seeing the look on Isabelle's face when she got off the ski," Simone said.
Spa and cheese curds
The Dunai crew arrived at DIA last Wednesday, where a Colorado Make a Wish rep met them to make sure they got their rental car and were headed in the right direction.
The family arrived to what the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch calls its Wall of Applause. The entire staff assembled in the lobby and applauds while they greeted the family. When they left, they did the same sort of thing – a Fond Farewell.
"They were so loving and kind, and went out of their way to make her feel loved and special," Rebecca said. "The staff went above and beyond anything we could have imagined."
Matt, their server at Anderson's Cabin, is also from Wisconsin, and managed to find fresh Wisconsin cheese curds. Really good cheese curds squeak just a little when you chew them, and these squeaked like the excited kids enjoying them.
They enjoyed a painting night, game night, movie night.
"They wanted family time, so we based everything about the family," Kayne said.
The culinary staff gave the three Dunai daughters a tour of all the Ritz kitchens, where they sampled the wares. The pastry staff was setting up for a wedding, and they got to sample some wedding wares, too.
The Dunai daughters had a spa experience while other family members skied.
On her blog page, isabellesfight.com, Isabelle blogs about what she's living with – multiple chronic conditions – and displays inspiring maturity and courage for one so young.
"I think the universe is one big tapestry with many strands woven together, intertwining and weaving amongst everyone we come in contact with," she writes in one of her posts.
"I'm so in love with life… So in love with life … I am constantly thinking about how much I love this life."
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.