38 REALTOR® NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2013 RealtorMag.REALTOR.org
Kristina Rhodes has
helped raise nearly
half a million dollars
for Make-A-Wish and
helped make more than
80 children’s dreams
See the video at
Emily Jones was a fighter. Faced with an aggressive
form of cancer, the 11-year-old from Newburgh, Ind.,
clung to her passions: her love of animals, food (crab
legs were her favorite), family, fun, and all things
Someone else who never gave up was Kristina
Rhodes—an indefatigable volunteer for Make-A-Wish who went above and beyond to make Emily’s
dream come true, something the girl’s family will
Make-A-Wish is an international organization that
grants wishes to children with life-threatening medi-
cal conditions. Emily, a fifth-grader who was diag-
nosed on Sept. 24, 2012, with acute lymphoblastic
leukemia, wished to take a Caribbean cruise with her
parents and older brother Isaak. That fall and winter,
she and her doctors battled the disease until it was
nearly in remission. But the cancer was unrelenting
and came back in the spring. Emily’s doctors de-
cided to pursue a bone marrow transplant and even
found a donor. But Emily’s white blood cell count
never reached the levels required for the transplant.
She also never regained the strength necessary to
travel for her cruise.
So what did Rhodes do? She brought the cruise to
Emily. On her own, Rhodes arranged a pontoon ride on
the Ohio River for Emily and a few close friends. Sending her o; was a crowd of 50 loved ones, including
some of her teachers, classmates, and family members, dressed in tropical outfits. Each person placed a
lei around Emily’s neck before she boarded the boat.
Soon Emily was festooned in tropical adornments.
“When you have a situation like Emily’s and you’re
able to spend time with the family and get to know
them, it really teaches you something,” Rhodes said.
“Emily taught me about what’s really important in
life and helped me keep things in perspective.”
Emily’s mom, Tracy Jones, remains in awe of
Rhodes. “Kristina is a fantastic volunteer; as soon as
she walked into the room, I knew I was going to like
her. She’s so personable and so sweet,” she says.
Rhodes, who was adopted as a baby, was inspired to get involved with Make-A-Wish by her birth
mother, who volunteered in Fort Wayne, Ind. When
Rhodes found out that Make-A-Wish only had one
other volunteer in southern Indiana in 2001, she de-
Kristina Rhodes F.C. Tucker Emge, REALTORS®, Newburgh, Ind.