(CBS Detroit) Riley, 12, of Gibraltar, has an incurable blood disease that requires twice monthly treatment, a grueling regimen for the rest of her life.
But there are worse things, she believes.
And some of those things are experienced by her best friend Julia, also 12.
“Julia and her mom struggle every day,” said Riley, a slight blonde with a big smile, explaining that Julia’s dad has made himself scarce and her mom works at a tropical fish store. The small family struggles to pay for necessities like food and rent.
Riley added: “I want Julia to have something to smile about over the holidays.”
She’s so concerned about her best friend that the girl with the incurable disease wrote a letter to the Rat &Puff Show on 987 Amp Radio in metro Detroit, as part of the morning show’s Holiday Wish contest. The contest, sponsored by Little Caesars, asked metro Detroiters to tell the show about a friend in need. Winners receive a $1,000 VISA gift card and a $500 Little Caesars gift car to brighten their holidays.
Riley was one of the winners, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when she came to the studio to read aloud her letter and explain why it mattered to her so much that Julia get help for the holidays. The pair have been best friends since they were 3 years old.
“I totally know what it’s like to feel alone so please, please grant this wish for my friend Julia and let her have a happy holiday,” Riley said.
There were hundreds of entries but that letter touched the morning show so much, there were tears when she read her letter aloud.
Rat, aka Jeff Daly, was especially touched that even with her own health issues Riley was focused on her friend and not herself. “It tells us a lot about who you are,” Daly said.
Julia didn’t know about the letter until she learned she had won. “Thank you so much,” she said, breaking down in tears and hugging Julia.
And then it got even better. A local business owner heard the letter read on-air and called, offering to match the $1,000 gift card so that Riley could have a spectacular Christmas, too. “It really touched my heart,” the businessman said, adding “That was a wonderful thing you did for your friend and I’d just like to help you guys out.”
There were hugs and smiles, and some tears, all around the room.
“Everyone should have a friend like you,” Ed Gleich, the SVP of marketing for Little Caesars, told the girls.