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Make-A-Wish Foundation and Macy’s give hometown girl a day as a model

Kate Lopez is greeted by a cheering crowd of Macy’s employees and Make-A-Wish Foundation volunteers. Photo by Brian Park
Kate Lopez is greeted by a cheering crowd of Macy’s employees and Make-A-Wish Foundation volunteers. Photo by Brian Park

By Brian Park

What typical teenage girl wouldn’t want to be a model for a day? To have their makeup done by a professional cosmetic artist? To be shown racks of the latest hot fashion items? To be under the glow of studio lights while a photographer snaps away?

For one San Clemente girl, who’s endured countless hospital visits, surgeries and treatments in her battle against cancer, her day in the spotlight became a reality, thanks to the efforts of Macy’s and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

On Friday, December 6, 14-year-old Kate Lopez got to experience life as a model, a wish she made through the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Orange County and Inland Empire branch.

Lopez, her mother and her sister arrived at Macy’s in Brea by limousine just before noon. With crutches in hand and her family beside her, Lopez made her way through a human tunnel made up of Macy’s employees and Make-A-Wish volunteers, who cheered her down a red carpet.

Lopez was led to a makeup station, where an artist from Bare Minerals, her favorite cosmetic line, sat her in a studio chair and showed her how to apply different makeup. Afterward, a Macy’s personal shopper led Lopez through the store’s juniors’ collection, where she picked out a few items for a professional photo shoot on Saturday, December 14.

“Makeup, cool outfits—I kind of like it all. All the different styles,” Lopez said.

Two years ago, Lopez was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. About 800 people are diagnosed with osteosarcoma annually and half those are children and teenagers, according to the American Cancer Society.

Kate Lopez and her family make their way down a human tunnel of Macy’s employees and Make-A-Wish Foundation volunteers. Lopez, who’s battled bone cancer for the past two years, received a full makeover and will later participate in a professional photo shoot. Photo by Brian Park
Kate Lopez and her family make their way down a human tunnel of Macy’s employees and Make-A-Wish Foundation volunteers. Lopez, who’s battled bone cancer for the past two years, received a full makeover and will later participate in a professional photo shoot. Photo by Brian Park

Lopez has undergone chemotherapy treatment and eight surgeries, including a major 11-hour limb salvage procedure, according to Lopez’s mother, Gail. Doctors removed 16 c.m. of Lopez’s right femur and replaced it with a cadaver bone and her right fibula. Lopez’s right leg was placed in a cast and her left leg in a brace for the first month following the surgery. She wore a full leg brace for more than a year and has had to use a wheelchair or crutches for two years. But just last month, she started to put weight on her leg.

“She has more strength than anyone that I’ve ever known. More strength than I could’ve ever imagined her having,” Gail said. “I can count on one hand how many times she cried, from when she was diagnosed to getting out of the hospital. She was just a rock.”

Stephanie McCormick, CEO of the Orange County-Inland Empire branch of Make-A-Wish and a San Clemente resident, said it was special to help a neighbor.

“I’m really excited about the fact that we’re granting a wish for someone from my hometown,” McCormick said. “There is nothing more powerful than the smile of a Wish child. For a moment in time, they get taken away from the doctors, the needles and the hospital. For one moment in time, they get their one true wish. You never get tired of seeing that, ever. It’s very powerful.”

Lopez, who now attends San Clemente High School, said although she enjoys fashion, she has different career plans that were inspired by her time in the hospital.

Javier Lopez, a cosmetic artist from Bare Minerals, applies makeup on Kate Lopez, who received a full makeover thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Photo by Brian Park
Javier Lopez, a cosmetic artist from Bare Minerals, applies makeup on Kate Lopez, who received a full makeover thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Photo by Brian Park

“I think I want to be a nurse to work with kids like me when I was sick,” Lopez said. “All my nurses were nice to me and everybody else. I just want to give back to what they did.”

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