OGDEN — Friday night was Jenna Jacobs’ night.
Hundreds lined the sidewalks of Ogden’s Union Station Friday evening, eagerly awaiting the 16-year-old Ogden girl’s arrival to her birthday party that she had been planning for months and was made possible by Make-A-Wish Utah.
According to her dad, David Jacobs, Jenna is dealing with chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction, a rare gastrointestinal disorder that impacts her daily life.
At first when she was told she was a Make-A-Wish kid, she thought about traveling to New York City and seeing “Hamilton” on Broadway, but instead she opted for a, “Sweet 16 party like those huge ones you see in the movies,” she said.
“I’m just so excited, like beyond excited,” a giddy Jenna said with a smile.
She said that before she was diagnosed with the disorder, she had tried every type of diet in the book: sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan, you name it. That’s why one of the things she specifically requested for her birthday was some of her favorite food that she wouldn’t normally have.
What was the one thing she had to have? An avocado-shaped piñata filled with prizes. She says they’re one of her favorite foods, and her medical bag is an avocado-shaped backpack.
“I just love avocados,” Jenna said.
All around her were hundreds of people playing carnival games, watching jugglers and magicians or living it up on the dance floor. The event took up much of Ogden’s Union Station, with those attending shuffling back and forth between the game area in the Grand Lobby and the dance floor in the Browning Theater room.
Instead of a red carpet, Jenna was treated to a pink carpet. Everywhere you looked you could see families and teens enjoying the night. The party was even complete with a live DJ, courtesy of iHeartMedia in Salt Lake City.
Jared Perry, CEO of Make-A-Wish Utah, said the huge event is the culmination of months of work between their organization and the Jacobs family. He estimated that somewhere between 800 and 1,000 people showed up to celebrate Jenna’s birthday.
“Every wish is pretty special,” Perry said. “The community support has been phenomenal.”
Perry said that his organization will be granting around 245 wishes this year to kids all across the state.
David Jacobs said the whole experience has been incredible. As the family was arriving to the party in a limousine, the noise level quickly went from quiet to loud.
“She’s like, ‘look at all these people’ because it was pretty quiet in there, and when you open the door it’s loud,” David Jacobs said. “She’s been on cloud nine ever since.”
Jenna said the whole experience has been incredible, and thanked the people at Make-A-Wish who made it all possible. She received the light blue dress she was wearing during a free shopping trip to City Creek in Salt Lake City. Her friends even had their dresses paid for, too.
The night was carefully planned for months down to the last detail. During much of that time of planning, Jacobs was sick in her bed or in the hospital, she says. Now, however, her dream has been made a reality.
“I spent most of the time in my bed, like for months in my bed,” she said. “(Planning the party) actually gave me happiness.”