North Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Like many teenagers getting ready for the start of another school year, 16-year-old Karena Butch can’t wait to show off her latest fashions. But, in this case, her new clothes and accessories mean more to her than the average teenager.
“Fashion is a big part of who I am. It’s a big part of who I am. So when I wear those clothes, I feel like myself,” Bunch said.
And as Kareena’s mom Charity will tell you, this has been a long time coming.
“I would never want any parent to have to deal with this. But if your number is called, you will see what your family and your children are made of.”
The Bunch family is the first to know. In the year In 2020, Kareena was diagnosed with a rare form of anemia. It’s something only one in a million people get.
It includes 100% bone marrow failure, it has no ability to create new blood cells. It means losing normal existence. It also means hair loss.
“I was confused about who I was and I was very broken in my mind,” Kareena said. “Like I said, I felt like I lost everything.”
Kareena needs a transplant after having to take 40 pills a day. Who better for a donor than someone who sits at the dinner table every night. Her younger brother Kai was ready, willing and able.
“What she looked like a year ago and what she looks like today….that’s night and day,” Charity said.
To put it in perspective, Karena’s first day of class at Einstein School in Plano on Aug. 16 marks her first real experience of attending high school in person, and she’s an 11th grader. Imagine….checking out her outfit choices on her first date.
“I’m more confident in myself, so I feel like it’s easier to make new friends. Because I’m not too afraid to talk to people. I’m nervous and excited.”
A calming influence for Karena this time is the Make-A-Wish base of North Texas. Her wish was a shopping trip and her wish came true – $2,500 at the Galleria Mall in Dallas.
Sara Roelke, Make-A-Wish North Texas media relations manager explained, “There is research that shows that when children are granted a wish, they renew their hope for the future. They can live life to the fullest.”
Maggiano’s Little Italy is happy to help serve that mission. The restaurant hosted Karena and family for a special dinner. The company has pledged to donate a portion of their food proceeds to the Make-A-Wish Foundation…now through the end of August. “We have some very generous guests in our area. I think we’ve raised over $10 million for Make-A-Wish North Texas and other chapters in over 20 years,” said Maggiano’s CEO Steve Provost.
And as important as a new school year always is, there’s no way to overstate how important it is to Karena. He has sacrificed a lot to get to this point. And at 16, she knows more about herself than some people know about themselves in a lifetime. \\
“How smart I am, how strong I am, how many people love me, who I want to be. I want to be happy. That’s what I’m talking about. I just want to be happy,” she said.