Chase Wehner Story
This article was published in Dayton Daily News on July 22, 2015
By Chuck Manker
When U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg writes an opinion on a case before the Court, Isabelle (Izzy) ChaseWehner, 22, of Fairborn probably takes note more than most people. That’s because she and her family met with Justice Ginsburg in her chambers for an hour in December 2013 for Izzy’s wish granted by A Special Wish Foundation – Dayton Chapter. (ASW)
“I’ve always had an interest in government and enjoyed the political process. I wanted to meet someone in the public eye that I admired and has had a real lasting impact on the justice system and our government in general,” Izzy said. “Justice Ginsburg was the natural choice for me because of her advocacy and profile in the media.”
“From conversations around the house, Izzy had an interest in government and world affairs. She and her dad would have great discussions about different laws and what was going on in the world,” said her mother, Liesa Chase. Bob Wehner, her father, works at Wright-Patterson AFB.
In 2011 Izzy was having hip pain and had a fever. After undergoing medical tests, she was diagnosed in March that year with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), a cancer of the blood.
“I had to get heavy chemotherapy treatment for the first nine months, then I was able to go on pills and monthly visits,” Izzy recalled. She ended treatment in July 2013 after two and a half years with some form of chemotherapy, and the disease is in remission. Working through its contacts, ASW made arrangements for the trip to meet Justice Ginsburg in Washington, D.C., and to visit other attractions in the area.
“It (the wish) made things better, and helped offset the illness so much,” Izzy said.
Izzy, her parents, and younger sister, Georgia, arrived at the Supreme Court Building to hear two oral arguments before the Court prior to meeting with Justice Ginsburg and sat in chairs reserved for guests of the justices. Then they were escorted to her chambers for the meeting.
“She was very gracious and personable,” Izzy said. “I wanted to know how she got to the court and learn what factors went into making this incredible woman and one of the first women on the court. She talked about growing up and how she had been appointed to the bench.”
Both Izzy and Liesa said Justice Ginsburg was very open and forthcoming during the meeting and talked about her own health issues. She has had cancer twice.
“Meeting with her definitely confirmed that I was studying the things I wanted to study, and that this is the path I wanted for my life,” Izzy said.
She graduated from The Ohio State University in May with one degree in international studies and another in public affairs. She will enter law school at the University of Richmond in Virginia this fall. Izzy is poised to really make a difference.
In addition to the meeting with Justice Ginsburg, ASW arranged other activities for Izzy and her family.
“Special Wish did a great job of adding the other activities,” Liesa said.
A Special Wish Foundation arranged for the family to receive a special tour of George Washington’s Mount Vernon home and to see a performance of The Nutcracker at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Through Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown’s office they received White House and Capitol Building tours.
“Just having the time together with no other responsibilities, having time to connect, and having dinner at The Old Ebbitt Grill in Washington were special memories,” Liesa said. During Izzy’s treatment, time together as a family was hard to come by.
The Nutcracker “was gorgeous,” Izzy said, and brought back memories of when she saw it in Dayton as a child with her sister and dad. Then there was seeing the original Wright Flyer in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. “Being from Dayton, I had never gotten to see it. It’s part of our history and so cool,” she said.
For all the special activities and meeting Justice Ginsburg, it’s also the little things that create big memories. “When we went to Mount Vernon, a limo pulled up in front of the Supreme Court to pick us up,” Izzy recalled. “It was insane. I didn’t have any hair then (from the treatment), and here’s me getting into the limo. Who comes up with these things to make you feel special?
Liesa continues her association with ASW. “This is one of the three organizations I wanted to continue to be in involved with and give back,” she said.
Since 1983, A Special Wish Foundation – Dayton Chapter has granted more than 1,600 wishes to children and adolescents from birth through 20 years of age in Montgomery, Darke, Mercer, Miami, Greene and Shelby counties who are diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.
Go to www.aspecialwish.org if you would like to volunteer or contribute in other ways.
Chuck Manker is a member of the board of directors of A Special Wish Foundation – Dayton Chapter.