Last month, The Huffington Post and The Buried Life asked you about that one amazing, life changing thing you want to do before you leave this earth. Your responses were nothing short of amazing. We were moved to tears by so many personal emails, opened dozens of videos and collages, and with the help of The Buried Life, somehow narrowed more than 500 responses down to ten amazing stories.
You voted on which of these storytellers should get a little help from HuffPost Books to achieve their bucket list item. The storyteller you chose was Jonathan Winegarden, an 18-year-old college student and brother who wanted to give a little freedom to his chronically ill younger sister.
Many of you responded, both in the comments and via email, to Jonathan's moving story about his younger sister Anna and her fight with autoimmune illness. At just 15-years-old, Anna has given up her freedom and the normal whims that come with being a teen in exchange for long distance trips to doctors and specialists.
On her personal blog where she captures her feelings going through this illness, Anna says "I also struggle with even the easiest things. Such as, when I wash my hands, a lot of times I have to rest my arms on the sink because I don't have enough strength to hold them up. When I go up the stairs sometimes I have to sit down half way up because my heart is beating extremely fast, I feel like I'm going to faint, and my legs are giving out."
We were lucky enough to have Anna and her mother, Jennifer, stop by the HuffPost office on their most recent trip to visit Anna's specialist.
So, what did Jonathan wish for Anna?
"I want to give her one trip to anywhere she wants to go in the country. I want to be able to hop in a car this summer and drive to whatever place she chooses. I don't know how long she will be on this earth or for how much longer she will be able to live a semi normal life. But I would love to be able to take her somewhere special, to a land that reminds her of a dream so that for one week she can feel like she has no weight on her shoulders," he told us in his essay.
A cunning brother in the most loving way, Jonathan created his personal essay without telling Anna. With the help of his parents and family friends, he got his sister to talk about her experiences and created a moving video that captured the hardships and the strength in their relationship. Anna found out when the entry started circulating around Facebook - as did the rest of her high school.
In a display of the kindness and courage of community, students at Anna's school then threw her a birthday party with all of her friends, a live band and even her favorite ice cream.
But maybe the toughest part of Anna's condition, due to her age and stage in the illness, she has not been formally diagnosed and cannot begin treatment. The back and forth of medical centers and exams is a lot for a teenager, and Jonathan aims to provide a relaxing getaway that will supply Anna with some of the power she's recently lost in other parts of her life.
Where will Jonathan and Anna go? The sister-brother duo have yet to make a final decision, but are unanimous on one degree: someplace with sunshine.
We'll update you on their progress. Thanks again for taking part.