Sofia Copp’s Front Row Experience: Aladdin on Broadway
Illness: High Risk Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
“Though she but little, she is fierce.”
This Shakespeare quote perfectly sums up 10-year-old Sofia Copp. Unshakeable courage, remarkable bravery, and one determined fighter.
While often quiet and observant until she warms up, those who know Sofia best enjoy her lively, clever, and opinionated personality.
With a passion for creativity, Sofia enjoys art, crafts, sewing, and playing with her American Girl dolls. She loves creating her own plays and fashion shows, and dreams of being a fashion designer when she grows up.
In the fall of 2015, Sofia began complaining of aches and pains in her legs, hips, and lower back. After numerous trips to the pediatrician and even the ER, the family’s concerns went unanswered and they were regularly told “it’s just growing pains.”
In January of 2016, the family returned to the doctor requesting full bloodwork after Sofia developed a high fever. When they received inconclusive results, they were sent to Levine Children’s Hospital for further testing. A bone marrow biopsy was ultimately performed—after an MRI, x-rays, additional bloodwork, and more. The biopsy confirmed their worst fears: At only 7-years-old Sofia was diagnosed with cancer.
Surgery to have a port placed in her chest immediately followed and then the chemo treatments began. After an unsuccessful start, she was put on a new protocol for high risk patients who need more chemo. Roughly 9 months later, Sofia developed an extremely rare side effect that led to the PICU and she remained hospitalized until her liver and pancreas were able to start functioning on their own. Her weight dropped to just 38 pounds.
But Sofia fought hard and pulled through. When Sofia made it to the “Maintenance” phase, her mom Rae hoped to do something special for her after watching her daughter miss so much of everyday life. Rae applied for a Front Row experience, thinking of Sofia’s love of theater and how acting out plays with her dolls lifted her spirits during this difficult journey.
Fast forward to reveal day: We were THRILLED to tell Sofia that she’d soon be headed to NYC, surrounded by all of the bright lights and liveliness of the city, to see the real Broadway production of Aladdin! Event Director Rebecca Herzog even made an American Girl doll dress out of a Front Row t-shirt for the big announcement!
When Sofia and her family arrived in NYC, they received the most amazing welcome from our friends at The Row hotel. Businesses like The Row show how it truly takes a village to create an AMAZING Front Row experience and we are beyond grateful for the way they embraced Sofia and our charity’s mission.
The manager at The Row had printed Sofia’s flyer and it hung it all over the staff areas within the hotel, inviting the entire hospitality team to be a part of the magic. When Sofia and her family arrived, the ENTIRE staff was waiting in the lobby to welcome them! The penthouse suite was decorated with balloons, streamers, and thoughtful gifts. Candy (thank you Sugar Factory!), NY souvenirs, and even a caricature of Sofia in a supergirl outfit. It was UNREAL.
Our pre-event package and gift to Sofia included a couple of gift cards—to both the American Girl and Disney stores. The family’s first adventures included a private shopping trip to the American Girl store, going the the top of the Rockefeller Center, visiting the Nintendo store, and staying out late enjoying the city and precious family time together.
The next day we interviewed Sofia and her family, talking about their journey through cancer, the challenges and their hopes.
Afterwards, the family walked to the Disney store where they were greeted by cast members. Sofia got to unlock the castle with a magic key, enjoy several activities with store employees, and put her gift card to good use.
Later that day, we all headed to Planet Hollywood for food and more celebration. Our waiter TJ took amazing care of us and it was one festive meal: A ferris wheel appetizer, fancy milkshakes, plus a fantastic lunch topped off with huge ice cream sparklers while the wait staff sang happy birthday! (Sofia had just turned 10 a few weeks earlier.) Our entire meal was comped, Sofia got her very own Planet Hollywood name tag, and TJ gave Sofia his address to send him a letter—promising to send her Lol dolls when he received it.
Next, it was show time! We rushed over to the theater and Aladdin did not disappoint! The orchestra, songs, costumes, and story were AMAZING!
For Sofia, a true theater fan, the experience was incredible. For a family who has been through so much, these unforgettable moments mean everything.
You are such an amazing, beautiful girl who lights up any room she enters! We had so much fun treating you to your special day! It was a day of amazing moments for us as well and we feel so lucky to have been a part of it! Aladdin was amazing and we will never forget your Front Row Event! Stay strong and stay in touch!
Bex & Joreen
Thank you to Drew Frank and Dave Powders of Vector Marketing Corporation for making this dream come true.