GREENWICH — About 15 years ago, doctors told Tiffany Sloan that her daughter Justice wouldn’t live past the age of 5. Diagnosed with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, 2-year-old Justice spent more time in the hospital than she did at home as her body battled serious liver and lung disease.
When she was 5, the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted her wish to go to Disney World.
“I went right from the ICU to a plane to go to Florida the next day,” said Justice White, a now 17-year-old high school senior from Greenwich.
Her seven days in Florida at the Give Kids the World Village was the first time Justice wasn’t hooked up to monitors and surrounded by doctors.
“I had a pin that got me to the front of every line,” Justice said, “and that’s all I remember.”
But Sloan remembers the trip as pure happiness, 24-hour ice cream, daily presents and, of course, Mickey Mouse.
“You’re looking at your child like, ‘This is it.’ Then Make-A-Wish comes in and you have that hope again. You see them laugh and smile. There are no needles being stuck into them and no monitors going off. People need that.”
Since 2009, Justice has been giving back to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and helping to grant children’s wishes by collecting letters to Santa and delivering
them to Macy’s annually. For every letter written to Santa, Macy’s will donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation to grant the wishes of children with critical illnesses.
“I thought that would be a good way to give back for the wish that they gave me,” Justice said. “So my first year, my goal was 1,000 letters and I didn’t think that I was going to get it. And by the time that we delivered the letters, I had over 10,000 letters.”
By collecting letters to Santa, Justice has been able to grant the wishes of at least seven children. Wishes cost about $10,000 each. This is potentially her last year, because she plans to attend college for nursing next year, a career path chosen because of her medical journey.
Justice has already collected nearly 9,000 letters this year, and will make trips to Macy’s on Friday and again on Dec. 23 to deliver letters personally. The family is also hoping to grant the wish of Lilly Spicer, a first-grader at Greenwich Elementary who lives with the family.
Lilly suffers from neurofibromatosis 1, a brain disorder that causes her to develop tumors throughout her body. Over the summer, a tumor ate through Lilly’s tibia, requiring surgery. She also has a tumor in her brain.
“She wants to go to Mickey’s house,” Justice said.
Justice will be collecting letters until Dec. 22. Letters can be written by anyone — no age limit — and written on any kind of paper. Letters to Santa can be mailed to Justice White, 2913 State Route 40, Greenwich, NY 12834; or emailed to Justice at firstname.lastname@example.org.