Although 7-year-old Armani Artis is battling stage four neuroblastoma (a rare cancer of the nervous system), she is charming, upbeat and lives every day to the fullest. “She is who gets me through this,” says Armani’s mother, Tomika. “Her days are good days, and we’re blessed. Armani treats it like a common cold.” Tomika’s goal is to help Armani maintain the normal life of a young girl, complete with fantasies and dreams, with as little worry about her cancer as possible.
When the Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Texas Gulf Coast asked Armani what her ultimate wish was, she knew exactly what she wanted: to dance with John Travolta. What could be greater than moving around the dance floor with a movie legend? Travolta is a prolific actor and entertainer, starring in such blockbusters as “Grease,” “Look Who’s Talking,” “Get Shorty” and Armani’s favorite, “Saturday Night Fever.” Not to mention, he is an excellent dancer. Tomika was surprised by her daughter’s request, thinking she would wish for a Disney cruise. Armani simply explains, “Because I like him, and he used to make me feel better when I was sick.”
It didn’t take long for the Make-A-Wish Foundation to arrange a day, and a dance, with the superstar. Armani, her mother and her grandmother were whisked away to Clear Water Beach, Fla. for the electrifying day. From the moment they arrived, they got the movie star treatment, complete with a stay in a beautiful luxury hotel. Armani and her grandmother were even picked up by a limousine to drive them to her date with the Urban Cowboy.
Their hour with Travolta was nothing short of pure bliss. As soon as Travolta caught Armani’s eye, she ran up and gave him the biggest hug she could. Her eyes were sparkling with joy, and her giddiness filled the room. “When she gets excited, she gets the giggles,” says Armani’s grandmother, “She had the giggles to no end. She was so happy.”
Armani and John talked up a storm and danced the hour away. They got down to the Black Eyed Peas; at one point he picked her up to tango just like he did with Uma Thurman in “Pulp Fiction.” Travolta shared that he enjoys walking barefoot on the beach, especially when the sun rises and sets. He asked Armani about her family and her favorite things – including the movies that she likes. They talked about his family’s special tradition – he and his children create handmade presents for each other. Every day that he is home, they exchange their gifts in a “mini-Christmas” celebration.
“He told me about his daughters and Oprah,” says the little girl. “I love Oprah.” Travolta talked to Armani about his close relationship with Oprah Winfrey, the famed talk show host, and about the tea set he gave to her for her 50th birthday. He wanted to get her something special, and remembered how much his mother had treasured partaking in afternoon tea – so, he shared the sentiment with Oprah.
Armani’s grandmother was thrilled to see the fun Armani and Travolta were having together. “He is a wonderful person – nice, polite, soft spoken.” Armani later returned to her mother exclaiming, “Mom! That was the best hour of my life!”
That night, Armani and her family went to dinner to celebrate the end of a very special day. After dinner, the restaurant staff presented Armani with a special gift – a beautiful tea set of her own. Now, Armani feels just as special as Oprah and Mrs. Travolta.
Since returning to Houston, Armani continues to brighten everyone’s day with her gleaming smile and contagious giggle. She has taken up Travolta’s custom of making gifts for those she loves and gives her presents to other children in the hospital. For Armani, every day is holiday worthy of a celebration.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation is a non-profit organization that grants the wishes of children who, like Armani, are diagnosed with a life-threatening disease. Their mission is to encourage joy and bring hope to the lives of these brave children and their families. For more information about this charity, visit www.wish.org.