By Teresa Flores
When Peyton Dietze learned that one of her wishes would come true through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, she wished for something that she had always dreamed of. Her wish involved one of her favorite hobbies, dance.
Peyton, daughter of Northeast Speech Professor Jill Dietze, was limited with some of the activities that she could participate in growing up. Born with transposition of the great arteries, her heart’s functions were affected, but she could still feel wholly. Peyton underwent open heart surgery to repair her arteries just six days after she was born.
In her short 15 years, she has had seven surgeries as a result of her condition. Though, her medical condition hasn’t stopped her from being active.
Dance has been able to understand Peyton’s limitations, giving her a chance to be a part of a team without overexerting herself. “Dance is a way of expressing yourself and is a beautiful art,” Peyton said.
And with that passion for dance in mind, she knew what her wish would be.
The process started about a year ago when Peyton’s cardiologist suggested that she apply for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“She wanted to pick something that she couldn’t do without the help of Make-A-Wish,” said Jill Dietze. “Peyton has always loved the show Dancing With the Stars and has watched it religiously and has been a dancer her whole life. She just really wanted to go see the show.” Her wish, granted with the help of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, was to attend a taping of Dancing with the Stars.
Despite her brother Luke thinking it was “the most ridiculous wish that anyone could ever ask for,” to Peyton, it was a dream that could come true. “I chose Dancing With the Stars because I love to dance, and it is one of my favorite shows to watch,” Peyton said. “I have always dreamed of someday dancing on the show.”
Labeled as a “celebrity wish,” Dietze said those types of wishes aren’t always granted because it depends on the celebrity. Peyton had other ideas in mind if her first choice wasn’t fulfilled, but her heart was set on attending the show. “We waited for about a year and then they called us on a Wednesday, said you fly out on Saturday, and the show tapes on Monday,” she said. “So we got our ducks in a row. Peyton was ecstatic. She couldn’t believe that she was going to get to go.”
The day of the show, the Dietze family was picked up in a limo and arrived at the studio and met with one of the publicists for the show. The family was given a grand tour of the lot that included visiting the wardrobe, hair and makeup trailers. As Dietze watched her daughter get pampered by the hair and makeup professionals, elbow to elbow with the show’s celebrities and dancers, she couldn’t help but notice the obvious joy that shoned across her daughter’s face. “Peyton was glowing the entire time,” she said. “They were so good to us. It was such an emotional thing to watch her. She’s 15 and those people are everything in the world, as far as role models, to a 15 year old. Everybody that we came in contact with just made her feel like she was the most important thing on the lot. It was really just the neatest experience for her.”
For Peyton, she said the most exciting thing about attending Dancing With the Stars was getting to meet all the dancers and celebrities and seeing how the show functions behind the scenes. The teenager also had the chance to meet her favorite dancer, Derek Hough. The 5-time mirror ball champion gave his fan a treat that she would never forget. The pair made a video together that can be seen on Hough’s Facebook page.
Dietze was given a chance to see her daughter have a day where she could be showered with love and happiness despite her lifetime of hardships. “Peyton’s been through so much, but she’s such a solid kid anyway. She’s known her limitations and sucked it up her whole life knowing that she can’t do that so I’m going to try and do something else,” Dietze said. “She’s embraced the things that she can do and what a gift to give a kid who has had limits. Dance and cheer have been the only things that she can do to get to do something and see role models that are a part of what she can do. It was really an emotional thing for us to watch her get to do.”
There’s no doubt that the Make-A-Wish Foundation gave Peyton an experience that she could hold in her heart forever. “I feel that the Make-A-Wish Foundation is wonderful because it gives kids like me, who have to go through tough things that kids shouldn’t have to experience a once in lifetime chance for their wish to come true,” Peyton said. “They gave me a memory that I will never forget. It was a true blessing.”