Originally created 11/09/99

Area girl loses life to cancer



A Columbia County girl who was granted a wish to appear in a Muppet movie earlier this year lost her battle with cancer Sunday afternoon.

Kristina Donnelly, 11, was allowed to operate a Muppet for a breakfast scene in the movie Muppets from Space, which was released in theaters during the summer.

Her dream became reality through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to children ages 2 1/2 to 18 who suffer from life-threatening diseases.

Kristina was diagnosed nearly two years ago with Ewing's sarcoma, a form of bone cancer. In the time since her diagnosis, Kristina -- who attended Riverside Middle School -- had undergone chemotherapy, radiation treatments and experimental medicines.

"Even to this day, I know that she took with her so many memories and happy times because of the Make-A-Wish Foundation," Kristina's mother, Maggie Donnelly said.

"I know that she always remembered it, and I know that she thinks about that now."

Newspaper and television stories followed Kristina and her family as her wish came true. Even after the family's trip to Wilmington, N.C., for the movie's filming, Muppet cast members called to see how things were with Kristina.

"It's difficult for me to describe Kristina," said Jo Ann West, who formerly worked with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. "She was very brave on one end and very fragile on the other side. She inspired me to do things that I hadn't thought of because she was so full of hope about her future."

Reach Peggy Ussery at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 112.