Lighting up lives

Snohomish 4-year-old faces leukemia and a Christmas crowd


Herald Writer

SEATTLE — At age 4, Kristy Shurvinton has lived through more ups and downs than some people have at 40.

The Snohomish toddler got to be the star of the Christmas tree lighting at Seattle’s Westlake Center Friday night, thanks to a local jewelry business and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Kristy, who was diagnosed with life-threatening leukemia at age 2, waved to a crowd of thousands from the podium, where she stood with Santa Claus, her father, and television anchor Steve Pool for the tree lighting.

Then she was off for a horse and carriage ride with her 12-year-old sister, Kelsey, and parents, Stan and Nancy Shurvinton.

The event capped a tumultuous year for the family. At the beginning of it, they did not know whether Kristy would see her fifth birthday. She was undergoing chemotherapy and the slightest infection could have proved fatal in her weakened condition.

Then the Make-A-Wish Foundation offered to give Kristy her heart’s desire: a trip to Disneyland to meet characters from the movie "The Lion King."

Now her parents have nothing but praise for Make-A-Wish, a charity that fulfills the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses. The charity sent Kristy and her entire family to Disneyland during the summer.

"(The trip) came at a difficult time for the family, and it was such a positive thing," said Stan Shurvinton.

That could have been the end of Make-A-Wish’s involvement with Kristy, but a Westlake Center jewelry store invited Make-A-Wish to participate in the tree-lighting ceremony, Make-A-Wish spokeswoman Jennifer Blume said.

Make-A-Wish chose Kristy to be the guest of honor. It was role she appeared to relish.

"I thought she’d be scared, but she did extremely well," said her father. "She loved standing in front of the crowd and waving."

Kristy is one of 240 young people with life-threatening illnesses whose wishes were granted by the regional Make-A-Wish office this year. The little girl "summed up the whole meaning of Make-A-Wish," Blume said.

But the best gift for Kristy and her family hasn’t been the trip or the fanfare. It is that her leukemia is in remission. At the end of the year, she will no longer need to take chemotherapy. If all goes well, she should be able to attend kindergarten next year, her parents said.

Her mother said she was eager for the last treatment to be done.

"With the new year coming and her being off treatment, it’s a new beginning," she said.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

Grayson Huff, left, a 4th grader at Pinewood Elementary, peeks around his sign during the Marysville School District budget presentation on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
State OKs Marysville plan with schools, jobs on chopping block

The revised plan would mean the loss of dozens of jobs and two schools — still to be identified — in a school district staring down a budget crunch.

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

The Trestle’s junction with I-5 is under evaluation (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Here’s your chance to give feedback on the US 2 trestle and its future

Often feel overwhelmed, vulnerable and on shaky ground? So is the trestle. A new $17 million study seeks solutions for the route east of Everett.

John Pederson lifts a flag in the air while himself and other maintenance crew set up flags for Memorial Day at Floral Hills Cemetery on Friday, May 24, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Volunteers place thousands of flags by veterans’ graves in Lynnwood

Ahead of Memorial Day, local veterans ensure fellow military service members are never forgotten.

Brian Hennessy leads a demonstration of equipment used in fire training at the Maritime Institute in Everett, Washington on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
‘Ready to go full sail’: Maritime Institute embarks at Port of Everett

The training facility offers Coast Guard-certified courses for recreational boaters and commerical vessel operators.

George Beard poses for a photo outside of the the Stanwood Library in Stanwood, Washington on Wednesday, May 8, 2024.  (Annie Barker / The Herald)
From sick to the streets: How an illness left a Stanwood man homeless

Medical bills wiped out George Beard’s savings. Left to heal in his car, he got sicker. Now, he’s desperate for housing. It could take years.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Lawsuit says Snohomish County deputies not justified in Sultan shooting

Two deputies repeatedly shot an unarmed Sultan man last year, body camera video shows. An internal investigation is pending.

An airplane is parked at Gate M9 on Tuesday, May 21, 2024 at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois. (Jordan Hansen/The Herald)
Good luck to Memorial Day travelers: If you’re like me, you’ll need it

I spent a night in the Chicago airport. I wouldn’t recommend it — but with flight delays near an all-time high, you might want to pack a pillow.

Editorial cartoons for Friday, May 24

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Cascade’s Mia Walker, right, cries and hugs teammate Allison Gehrig after beating Gig Harbor on Thursday, May 23, 2024 in Lacey, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Seniors Wilson, Tripp power Cascade softball past Gig Harbor

The pair combined for three homers as the Bruins won the Class 3A state softball opening-round game.

The original Mountlake Terrace City Council, Patricia Neibel bottom right, with city attorney, sign incorporation ordinance in 1954. (Photo provided by the City of Mountlake Terrace)
Patricia Neibel, last inaugural MLT council member, dies at 97

The first woman on the council lived by the motto, “Why not me?” — on the council, at a sheriff’s office in Florida, or at a leper colony in Thailand.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.