When 13-year-old Karli Hintz learned the Waukesha County Deputy Sheriff's Association and the Make-A-Wish Foundation were working to grant her wish to meet "tween" idol Miley Cyrus – pop star "Hannah Montana" on the popular Disney Channel program – she could hardly contain her excitement.
"Her spirits are so high right now," said her mother, Lynn Hintz.
Karli, who was diagnosed with a cancerous brain stem tumor in April, was already excited about beginning eighth grade Tuesday at Horning Middle School. She's also been looking forward to moving her horse, Cinnamon, to the family's Town of Waukesha home from a Mukwonago stable.
But then just in the past couple weeks, she learned the meeting with Cyrus is going to happen, and soon, her mother said.
Karli chose to meet the 14-year-old Cyrus as her wish because she is a fan of the show, they are close in age and Karli likes to sing just like Hannah Montana, her mother said. Karli is also musically talented; she plays the piano and oboe. She just can't do it as much anymore because she has lost movement on her left side, her mother said.
The deputy sheriff's association hopes to raise enough money at its 19th annual benefit for the Make-A-Wish Foundation on Sept. 7-8 so Karli can meet Cyrus, said organizer Capt. Karen Ruff.
In the 18 years the association has been holding the event, $180,000 has been raised to grant wishes from a personal computer to trips to a tree fort.
Renee Kirnberger, director of development and communication for the Wisconsin chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, said it is the group's procedure to bring children to the celebrity they wish to meet. The foundation grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses.
Karli and her family are expected to travel to meet Cyrus, a daughter of country singer Billy Ray Cyrus. The character lives a secret life as a pop star on the TV show.
Lynn Hintz said she hesitated when someone suggested they apply to the Make-A-Wish Foundation after Karli's diagnosis, believing there were other children who perhaps needed a wish more. But after witnessing the radiation, surgeries and procedures, physician appointments and now chemotherapy that her only daughter has gone through in the past five months, she said she believes Karli deserves a wish just as much as any child.
"Karli is the most amazing child," she said. She makes friends easily and is a go-getter, and she is someone who sets her mind to doing something and does it, Hintz added.
"To think this spirit could be taken away from us by this illness is too much," Hintz said.
The Hintz family hopes to be at the deputy sheriff's association event next Saturday.
All funds raised go to grant wishes, Ruff said. Off-duty deputies, dispatchers, other department members and their families run the event, and all items are donated.
Ruff said the response from the first event in 1989 was so positive they decided to keep going, and they teamed up with the Make-A-Wish Foundation the next year.
This year's event will be at the Sussex Village Park on Main St.
Past Make-A-Wish recipients and their families will reunite at the event, Ruff said.
Any money left over after granting Karli's wish would go toward granting wishes of other sick children.
Lynn Hintz said her family is taking one day at time and hoping the chemotherapy will slow or stop Karli's tumor from growing. They say they are trying live every day to the fullest. They can accomplish that, she said, through prayers and well-wishes they receive on a Web site dedicated to Karli. And with the help of relatives, friends and fellow church members, they have a research team weeding through clinical trials and medical procedures they hope will help Karli.
While their lives have been turned upside down, Hintz said, "Karli just wants to do normal things, and we're trying to give her that."