Ashley Nagel never grew old enough to spend a week at Camp Good Days and Special Times, but that didn’t stop the impact she made on Camp staff. To honor her memory, the Teddi Dance for Love is dedicated to Ashley, who lost her battle on September 1, 2013, about two months shy of her sixth birthday.
When she was 15 months old, Ashley was diagnosed with a brain tumor and her prognosis was not good. Over the next four years, she put up a fight, going through rounds of chemotherapy and radiation and triumphing to reach periods of remission. Her parents, Wendy and Christopher, said she taught them how to embrace life during that time.
“Ashley loved life and each and every person who came into her life would be forever changed. Her cute little smile melted your heart and everyone will remember her deep, wonderful and contagious belly laugh. You didn’t always know what she was laughing at but it wouldn’t take long and you’d be laughing with her,” said Wendy.
Her parents also said that over the course of their daughter’s illness, many people gave so much so she could enjoy her short life to its fullest. When she turned three, the Make-A-Wish Foundation sent the Nagel family on a trip to Disney, where they stayed at Give Kids the World for a week with passes to Disney and Universal Studios. While there, she was able to celebrate Halloween and Christmas, complete with a parade and Disney characters. Her mom said that while Ashley wasn’t too fond of swimming before their trip, she became a fish in the water while they were there, which was something great for them to see.
After her initial diagnosis, Ashley had the opportunity to spend some time at Camp Good Days during their day for brain tumor patients. Her mom said she would frequently talk about going again to visit with the staff who had become her friends, but her mom’s fear was that if they waited until the next event for brain tumor patients came around, it might be too late.
Much to the Nagel family’s surprise, Camp staff arranged for Ashley to spend the night at camp a week before it was officially open. Her love of princesses transformed Camp into a land fit for a princess, complete with a golf cart turned into a princess carriage and a cabin turned into castle. Staff set up two elegant tables ready for a tea party with pink ribbons, bows, and balloons. Her bunk bed was decorated like a princess canopy bed. And the family was served all of Ashley’s favorite foods.
“They opened their hearts just for our little angel so she could spend one more time at a place she loved. Our little girl’s last wish could not have been more perfect,” said Wendy.
Ashley will be remembered with a balloon launch at the Teddi Dance on Saturday night after a brief dedication ceremony, and her parents will be there to offer remarks and lead the launch.