Updated: September 23, 2013 at 7:39 am
Earlier this year, Kari Noe made three wishes: To meet a princess in a castle, to have a tea party in a castle, preferably with a princess, and to visit Focus on the Family, home base of her favorite radio show, "Adventures in Odyssey."
On Thursday, only days after taking her final oral chemotherapy dose, the 6-year-old and her family flew to Colorado Springs from Birmingham, Ala., to fulfill one of the Make-A-Wish Foundation requests in the studio at Focus that produces the long-running educational children's drama.
The family was greeted as royalty by royalty, with Focus employees donning plastic tiaras and Disney princess costumes. "This is my favorite day," Kari said, dressed in an iridescent blue Cinderella dress, a sparkling tiara atop her short, blond hair.
Announcing she was ready for the next adventure, Kari grabbed the pinky finger of Snow White, aka guest relations coordinator Kasi Reyes, and led her off toward the three-story A-Bend-A-Go Slide in the kids' play area.
This little princess knows how to have a good time - which comes as no surprise to her mother, Ashley.
"We decided whatever we do with this, we want it to be fun and to make the most of it," she said.
In the years after Kari was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2011, the family spent endless hours in hospitals and specialists' offices as Kari underwent tests and procedures. During that time, they learned to find and create laughter where they could. That meant games, playing pretend, late night chocolate runs and listening to "Adventures in Odyssey."
Kari finished chemotherapy Sept. 13 and now begins a five-year period of close scrutiny by doctors to make sure the cancer doesn't return.
"We've still got five years of doctors, but Lord willing in five years we'll be finished with this," Ashley said.
During her visit to Focus, Kari and 4-year-old brother Malachi put on a puppet show and rustled volunteers from the audience to fill out the cast of an impromptu play in the theater room. She also took the mic to read a script in the studio, where she was joined by Hollywood voice actor Townsend Coleman, who traveled from his home in California to help fulfill Kari's wish.
"She's having a blast. She's a top-rate writer, director and star," said Coleman, who voices the "Adventures in Odyssey" character Jason.
The day before, Diane Ingolia, manager of guest relations and hospitality specialist at Focus, arranged a surprise for the family when they visited Glen Eyrie Castle: a player dressed to the regal nines to meet the family at the door.
"When they got to the ballroom, she grabbed her brother and started dancing and spinning and dancing and spinning, just like Belle and the Prince" in the Disney movie "Beauty and the Beast," Ingolia said.
Then Kari and the princess sat down to high tea.
Contact Stephanie Earls: 636-0364