By Lauren Schwab
LOUISVILLE – Imagine if you could have one wish granted; what would it be? To meet a celebrity, travel to an exotic place, become wealthy or be famous for a day?
For FFA member Ashley Denslow of the Brandon FFA Chapter in Florida, her one wish was to attend the 87th National FFA Convention & Expo in Louisville, Ky., with her parents and best friend. Now, through the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America, the 17 year old has been granted her wish.
Despite being diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus, Denslow doesn’t let her illness keep her from being an active leader and serving as vice president of her FFA chapter. She shows many animals and competes in career development events including forestry, livestock judging, dairy judging, vegetable judging and more. “FFA is what I do after school and on the weekends, so it wouldn’t be my wish if it wasn’t with FFA,” Denslow said. “It’s awesome to be here, I love FFA and everything it represents.”
Denslow arrived at the Kentucky Exposition Center on Wednesday in a limo ready to meet her fellow FFA members from across the country. As any girl might dream for, Denslow was given a shopping spree in the FFA Shopping Mall. She then attended the opening session of the convention and listened to motivational speaker Nick Vujicic. “Going to the session was huge; there were so many members there. The motivational speaker (Vujicic) really inspired me to be the best I can,” Denslow said.
While many FFA members see the national convention and expo as a once-a-year opportunity, Denslow sees it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. She reminds FFA members to fully embrace the convention experience and not take it for granted. “If you have the chance to come here, definitely do it. There are so many opportunities to have fun and really experience FFA,” Denslow said. “Come see how huge this organization really is and what you can take away from it. There are many different booths in the expo that show you every opportunity you can have.”
At home Denslow finds daily motivation in caring for her animals. “My animals have really helped me get through all this (her illness); they keep me going and are something to look forward to,” Denslow said. Despite limitations from her illness, Denslow strives to pursue her goals and career aspirations. “I would like to finish my degree at our community college and then transfer to a larger college to become a doctor. I would like to be a pediatric rheumatologist.” A pediatric rheumatologist is a physician who specializes in providing comprehensive care to children with rheumatic diseases. As Vujicic encouraged her to do, she plans to be a miracle to others.
Denslow truly demonstrates what it means to go all out in each day we are given and to give back to others. How will you make the most of your FFA experience?
For more information on the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America visit www.wish.org.