Sarah Allyson Rose Nichols was born on August 8th, 2000. At three months old, she was adopted by her grandparents Enid and Jack Nichols, because her parents were unable to care for her. Enid and Jack came to Prescott with some of their 11 children (4 biological and 7 adopted) to visit a friend and fell in love with the community. They bought a house on that visit and have been in Prescott Valley ever since. As the older children grew up and moved away, Enid and jack concentrated on raising their beloved Sarah.
Sarah was a very energetic, happy child keeping her parents on their toes. She loved to play with her dolls and stuffed animals; she had a wonderful imagination. Because of her special needs, Sarah had a difficult time in school but was making significant progress both academically and socially.
On January 5th, 2013, Sarah was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma pediatric cancer. Enid and Jack were devastated, but Sarah, despite being scared, never lost her smile. Sarah received five rounds of chemotherapy. Unfortunately, after the fifth round, the doctors reported that the cancer was still spreading, and there was nothing else they could do for Sarah. When Sarah came home from Phoenix Children’s Hospital on July 11th, 2013, the doctors had said she only had a couple of months left. Sarah had other plans.
Little Sarah fought her pain every day with a smile. Her needs required the constant presence of caregivers. Each one of them fell in love with Sarah and admired her angelic spirit. Sarah’s caregivers always made sure that every day was a good, fun day for her.
In August of 2013, The Make-a-Wish® Foundation sent Sarah, her parents, and two of her caregivers on a four-day trip to Disneyland. Sarah’s smile never left her face as she went on all the rides, took in all the sights, and met Mickey Mouse himself. Sarah was granted private meetings with all the Princesses, which to her was a dream come true. Her parents and caregivers were overjoyed to watch her eyes light up every time a character called her by her name, especially when Mary Poppins and Bert the Chimney Sweep walked down Main Street with her singing songs to Sarah. She said it was the happiest time of her life, making all those that loved her glad that she had such a magical experience.
Even before Sarah was diagnosed with cancer, she frequently talked about going to Disneyland for her 13th birthday. When she was admitted to the hospital, she was told that she would be there for a while. Her first question was, “Do I still get to go to Disneyland for my Birthday?” Her mother and two caregivers looked at each other before answering. Knowing the severity of her diagnosis, they assured Sarah that they would fulfill her birthday wish. After being in the hospital for seven months, Sarah was released to live out the remainder of her life at home. She was soon going to be 13, and her parents and caregivers started working on Sarah’s dream. They contacted the Make-A-Wish Foundation and told them about Sarah. The foundation sent a representative to talk to Sarah and find out what her main wish was. Naturally, our Princess said, “I would like to go to Disneyland and meet Mickey Mouse and all the Princesses.” It did not take long for this remarkable foundation to make her wish come true. Shortly after her 13th birthday, Sarah, her parents Enid and Jack, and two of her caregivers Ruth and Melanie were off on a four-day trip to California for Sarah’s dream trip to Disneyland.
A Limousine, or as Sarah called it “A really big car,” came and picked up Sarah and her companions to go to Phoenix airport. Sarah was very excited but nervous about the plane ride. Once in California, they checked into the beautiful Paradise Pier Hotel across the street from Disneyland. At the same time, Jack and Enid rested while Sarah, Ruth, and Melanie went swimming and explored the hotel. That night they watched the fireworks from Disneyland on the balcony of the hotel. Sarah turned to Ruth and Melanie and said, “I can’t believe I’m going to be there tomorrow. This is a dream come true!”
The next morning, they had a fabulous breakfast at Ariel’s Grotto at California Adventure. Sarah got to meet some of her favorite princesses. The rest of the day was spent on all the rides. Sarah’s choice that day was Splash Mountain. She, Ruth, and Melanie rode it four times. In the afternoon, they visited the Make-A-Wish Foundation lounge for Sarah to rest a bit. The people there were very friendly and made all of them feel welcome. After resting, Sarah was ready to go on more rides, but first, there was a surprise for her. Mary Poppins and Bert came to meet Sarah, and together they walked down Main street singing songs. When Sarah came back to the lounge, she was ready to go see more of Disneyland. But there was yet another surprise for her as the Mouse himself wanted to meet Sarah. So, while sitting and having a snack, Mickey Mouse and Ariel walked into the room, and Sarah’s face lit up with the biggest smile anyone had ever seen. She had a private meeting with Mickey and Ariel and was invited to sit in the VIP spot for the parade. Little Sarah was so excited. They all made their way to the special place to watch the Disneyland parade when they were seated, Peter Pan came and sat with Sarah and they talked for about ten minutes. When Peter left, Sarah announced that Peter Pan was her new best friend. During the parade, all of the Disney characters said Hello to Sarah yelling her name from their floats. Sarah was on Cloud Nine. She said, “I must be special. They all know my name.” Her parents and caregivers replied, “Yes Sarah, you are very special.” After the parade, it was time for more rides and then the fireworks show. During the fireworks, they again were seated in a VIP area in front of the castle. It was magical.
The next day they woke up and went to another special breakfast with all the characters. When they got into Disneyland, they went on all the rides again. However, this day Sarah wanted to go on Space Mountain numerous times. In the afternoon, Sarah’s main surprise was a private meeting with all the princesses. Sarah, Enid, Jack, Ruth, and Melanie were escorted into a room where Cinderella was waiting for Sarah. Sarah’s smile could have lit up the night sky; it was so bright. She and Cinderella spoke for a while, then Sarah was presented with her very own Cinderella princess dress, and she put it on. Looking beautiful, Sarah met each of the rest of the princesses, one by one. They all sang and danced, and Sarah’s dream had come true. She was made an official Disney Princess. The rest of the day, still wearing her princess dress, they went on more rides, met more characters, and watched the fireworks show again. It was a magical two days making this young girl the happiest girl ever.
The next day they went back home, and on the plane ride, Sarah told Ruth and Melanie that the trip was a dream come true. She was so happy; she couldn’t wait to tell everyone she knew about their adventure.
The Make-A-Wish foundation gave something back to Enid, Jack, Ruth, and Melanie that they may not have known they have lost. They gave them back Sarah, for those four days Sarah wasn’t a girl in pain or a girl dying of cancer. Instead, she was a thirteen-year-old girl at Disneyland for her birthday. The Make-A-Wish Foundation did much more than granting Sarah her wish. They also gave Enid, Jack, Ruth, and Melanie and everyone that loved Sarah their wish too.
Holidays came and went, and a new year arrived. Sarah was still hanging on and always smiling all the while. On July 5th, 2014, Sarah’s father Jack was flown to a Phoenix hospital with a brain hemorrhage. Sarah hugged her father for the last time. In the weeks that followed, Sarah’s health started to decline. Still, her smile never faded. Knowing Sarah’s situation, her caregivers threw Sarah an early 14th Birthday party about three weeks before her actual birthday.
On July 27th, 2014, at 8:22 PM, Sarah passed away. Her mother and her caregivers were there with her the entire time. Services were held on August 2nd, 2014, for all Sarah’s loved ones so that they could say their goodbyes to her. Unfortunately, her father, Jack, was not able to attend due to still being in the hospital. Jack transitioned to in-home care at Prescott Valley. His wife Enid spent her days with Jack, and together they missed their daughter, their dear Princess Sarah. Jack passed away a few years later.
Sarah touched the lives of many people. All deeply felt her loss. So much, that her memory could not be allowed to pass into oblivion. She inspired her caregivers, their family, and friends, to do charitable work in her name.
The costs of caring for Sarah, especially in her final days, had created a severe financial burden for her family. This group of people decided to organize and host a charitable event to raise money and provide relief to Sarah’s family. In August 2014, the “Car Show of the Pines” was created, and it turned out to be (at the time) the largest car show in the history of Northern Arizona.
It is from this place that our charity originates, and how Sarah became part of its namesake.
Photos of the car show can be seen on this Flickr link.