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Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

14-year-old with cystic fibrosis becomes fashion model for a day

By Tania Mashburn  |  Posted Dec 9th, 2016 @ 8:15pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — Life isn’t easy for 14-year-old Rylee Bess.

“Her stomach and her pancreas don't work the way they should,” said Tasha Bess, Rylee’s mother. “She has to take pills with everything she eats.”

Rylee was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was 4 years old. "Not a lot of people know I have it," she said.

Then a couple years ago, Make-A-Wish reached out, and Rylee knew just what she wanted.

"I love taking pictures," the shy 14-year-old said. “I wished to go to New York and be a model for a day."

“While she's waiting for that wish to be granted, Macy's has offered to give her a modeling tutorial,” Kelsey Ditommaso with Make-A-Wish Utah said. “So she's come out and had a makeover, she's getting styled right now as we speak, and she is about to do her very first photo shoot.”

Rylee Bess, center, sits down to write a letter to Santa at the Macy's at City Creek Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016.Photo: Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Friday was one of those days this ninth-grader will never forget. The makeup, the clothes and all the extra attention helped make Rylee feel like a model.

"She deserves a day like this," said Bart Bess, Rylee's dad. "All the work she has to put in to stay healthy. It's fun to see her not worry about anything but having fun."

It's great practice to get ready for the big day when she and her family go to the Big Apple.

"I just feel so grateful, so blessed," Rylee's mother said. "I just think people are amazing and do wonderful things for people."

This is part of the “Believe” campaign at Macy's, which helps Make-A-Wish grant wishes to children with life-threatening medical condition. For every letter to Santa received at Macy's now through Dec. 24, Macy’s will donate $1, up to $1 million, to Make-A-Wish.

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Tania Mashburn
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