When the teams participate in the Walk For Wishes at Creekside on Aug. 15, a grateful Gahanna teen will be there.

When the teams participate in the Walk For Wishes at Creekside on Aug. 15, a grateful Gahanna teen will be there.

Courtney Horn recently was selected as the honorary Wish Child for the event -- a fundraiser for the national Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Horn, an incoming senior at Gahanna Lincoln High School, was diagnosed in December 2006 with a central neurocytoma, a rare tumor of the central nervous system.

Doctors at Nationwide Children's Hospital had been testing her because of intense headaches and an inability to perform simple tasks. After diagnosing the tumor, they operated. Surgeons were able to remove only 25 percent of the tumor, though, according to Courtney's mother, Sue.

From there, the family traveled to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. She had a second surgery there, "and that didn't go well," both Sue and Courtney said, almost in unison.

A second emergency surgery followed. It went better, and she was discharged to have chemotherapy at Children's Hospital in June.

Because the tumor was in a location where regular chemotherapy would be too dangerous, Horn and her family applied to Massachusetts General for its proton-radiation therapy.

Proton therapy is the most precise and advanced form of radiation treatment today, according to the National Association for Proton Therapy (NAPT). It primarily radiates the tumor site, leaving surrounding healthy tissue and organs intact.

"There are only seven (hospitals offering proton therapy) in the United States," Sue Horn said.

Courtney was accepted, and she returned to Boston for the treatment. After six weeks, the tumor was only a third of the size it had been when she arrived.

She was discharged and sent back to Columbus to start the regular therapy.

"Make-A-Wish started contacting me when I started my regular radiation," she said.

The foundation continued to send packets of information regularly as she progressed, she said. One day last year, Cold Stone Creamery, a Make-A-Wish sponsor, came to one of her classes and severed ice cream.

"Everybody got a shirt and a $5 gift card. I got ice cream for a year," she said. "I don't know how many $5 gift cards they gave me."

Then the regional Make-A-Wish Foundation chapter provided her family with a vacation to Hawaii. When the trip finally arrived, it was perfect, she said.

"They planned everything around what I wanted to do," Horn said. "Basically, it was awesome. I got to spend a whole week there. I laid on the beach. I got a massage. We went to a luau. ... It was the most amazing, relaxing vacation I had been on."

A social worker at the Boston hospital submitted the request for Horn's vacation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Sue said. "The social worker there was very adamant," she said.

The social worker told her daughter, "You have been through a war and back. You deserve a wish," Sue said.

Sue said many people have been there to help.

"Our church, Stoneybrook Methodist, Gahanna schools, everybody," she said.

Church members took Courtney's siblings, Zachariah, 14, and Emily, 15, to and from the various activities and helped with the tasks Sue and her husband, Verlin, were unable to do.

Gahanna schools provided tutors and allowed her to work ahead so that she could graduate with the students she's known throughout her school years.

"I was a sophomore and a freshman at the same time," she said.

Courtney will do more publicity for the Make-A-Wish Foundation: a radio interview and possible TV news spots.

The Horn family already had been doing Relay For Life. Courtney's team had 100 members this year. The family also will hold a garage sale over the weekend at their Laurel Ridge home. Proceeds will go to Make-A-Wish.