Greeks raise money to send girl to Disney World

Cataleya Castanon, three-year-old sister of WSU student Cheyenne Castanon, has neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), a genetic condition which causes potentially fatal tumors to grow on a person’s nerves.

Cheyenne, a sophomore education major, said her family found out about a year and a half ago that there were three tumors pressing down on Cataleya’s brain. After a year of chemotherapy, the tumors were declared inoperable. They have impaired her vision to the point where she is considered legally blind and will likely have to learn to read braille, Cheyenne said.

While most people with NF1 make it to adulthood, there are a few cases where they don’t.

“Every child is different,” Cheyenne said.

Chi Omega, Cheyenne’s sorority, is nationally partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and has been since 2002. For a philanthropy event on Saturday the sorority raised funds to make Cataleya’s wish – a trip to Disney World with her family for her fourth birthday, on Christmas Eve – come true.

Cataleya’s condition has been difficult financially and emotionally for the Castanon family, Cheyenne said.

“It’s also brought us closer together,” she said. “It’s bonded us as a family, going through this hardship.”

Cheyenne said having her sorority sisters help her little sister’s wish come true has been “mind-blowing.”

“Especially considering they didn’t have to do this,” she said. “They could’ve helped some other kid’s wish come true, but they chose my sister.”

For the event, called the ChiO KickOff, the majority of WSU fraternities and sororities, as well as many of those from the University of Idaho, donated to Make-A-Wish in order to participate in a flag football competition, Cheyenne said.

Until Saturday, the WSU football team was also planning to participate in the event and help Chi Omega coach the teams, pass out snacks and make brackets, Cheyenne said. However, she said, the team ended up having to practice during the event.

Some football players later brought toys and presents to the Chi Omega house for Cataleya, Cheyenne said. Cataleya and her mother, Christa, were also at the event, so participants could meet the child their donations were going to, Cheyenne said.

Cataleya, Cheyenne, their 11-year-old sister Elena and their parents will be going to Disney World on Dec. 19, she said, for a whole week without worrying about medical bills, treatments or hospitals.

Editor’s note: This article has been revised to reflect that Chi Omega did not partner with the Make-A-Wish Foundation specifically for this event, but is nationally partnered with the foundation and has been since 2002. An earlier version of this story also said the sorority raised $5,000 during the ChiO KickOff, though the amount is still unknown.