Wishes In Flight Campaign: Jessica Leighton's story - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Wishes In Flight Campaign: Jessica Leighton's story

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This Thursday, KSFY News is partnering with the Make A Wish Foundation of South Dakota for its Wishes In Flight Campaign.

All day, viewers can donate unused airline miles to help offset travel expenses and grant wishes for children and their families.

It's not everyday we get to meet an 11-year-old like Jessica Leighton who is sweet down to her core.

Jessica was born with Spina Bifida where her spine didn't fully develop so nerves never reached down to her legs which left her paralyzed below the waist.

Despite the fact that she can't walk and uses a wheelchair, her mom Jarri says there's not much Jessica won't do.

"She's a very good sport. She doesn't limit herself in any way. If she thinks she can't do it, she can do it," Jessica's mom Jarri Leighton said.

Last year, the Leighton family decided to check out Make A Wish after Jarri's co-worker encouraged them to do so..

Little did they know, Make A Wish would soon make Jessica's wish come true.

"I thought it would be fun to see the ocean and stuff," Jessica Leighton said.

 Last May, Clay, Jarri, Jessica, Jessica's sister Elsa and brother Cole were headed to the sunny, blue waters on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

"We were so excited, Jessica was excited, we were so grateful the whole family got to go,' Jarri said.

"I'm glad my family got to go with me and swimming with dolphins was fun because I've never been and they're really cool animals," Jessica said.

Her favorite part: swimming with the dolphins. They snorkeled, went rock climbing and even met the ship's captain. They did it all.

Clay and Jarri said Make A Wish spared no expense. They were treated like royalty the entire time which doesn't happen often here at home.

"It provides that much needed get away to have everything at your fingertips and it's all laid out in front of you," Jessica's dad Clay said.

 "In day to day life, with a disability, it's a challenge. Make A Wish offered our family some down time, we could enjoy life, enjoy each other, swim with dolphins," Jarri said.

 Jessica calls her Spina Bifida her 'challenge' and for an entire week, she and her family got to forget about that challenge at sea.

She really hopes another family will get to do the same thing. So do her parents.

"The small donation that you would give with the flier miles would turn into a gigantic blessing to the recipients. It might look small, insignificant, but it's truly a large-scale contribution that would be made," Clay said. 

To give other little girls, like Jessica and her family a trip of a lifetime, this is your chance.

Join us, this Thursday, on KSFY News for Wishes In Flight. Donations can be made online and over the phone.

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