Edinburg teen to meet Backstreet Boys
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September 02,2004 - Rose Ybarra - Monitor Staff Writer
EDINBURG - When Ashley Perkins was in the fourth grade, she danced to the Backstreet Boys song 'Everybody', in her school talent show.
Some things never change. Now 17, Ashley still loves the Backstreet Boys.
Her room is wallpapered in group and individual shots of Brian, Kevin, Nick, Howie and A.J. "I have posters in age order," Ashley said. Kevin's the oldest and Nick is the youngest.
Even though they dropped their last album, Black & Blue, back in 2000 and went on hiatus after their supporting tour, Ashley continues to follow them individually.
Unlike most other girls, Ashley doesn't have a favorite. "I like them all the same," she said. A testament to that is her favorite Backstreet Boys song, All I Have To Give. "I like that song because they each have a good solo part in it," she said. Her admiration for the boy band is one of the few aspects in her life that hasn't changed over the years.
When Ashley was 14, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She has since undergone two surgeries. The tumor, which is imbedded in the part of the brain that controls sleep and vision, is inoperable, said Ashley's mother, Lisa.
"The doctors decided it would be too risky to remove it," Lisa said.
Because of the location of the tumor, it is difficult for doctors to take a good sample, but other tests indicate the tumor is benign.
"If it continues to grow, then they plan to start chemotherapy," Lisa said. "They are watching Ashley very closely."
In addition to the brain surgeries, Ashley also has undergone several surgeries for shunt malfunctions. A shunt is a device that diverts fluid from the brain into the abdominal cavity, where it is safely absorbed into the blood stream, according to the Hydrocephalus Association. Hydrocephalus, or water on the brain, is a common condition for those with head injuries. The tumor caused Ashley to lose most of the feeling in her left arm and she needs a brace on her left leg to walk.
Her life has been filled with challenges since her diagnosis. In spite of her condition, Ashley remains positive, upbeat and with the support of her family and a core group of good friends, the Edinburg High School senior leads a full life. Being a member of her school choir helps. Ashley hopes to attend college someday and study music.
"I love to sing," Ashley said.
While Ashley was settling in to her senior year, she received a piece of great news. Two long years after she submitted her request to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, her dream is finally coming true. She will be traveling to Los Angeles on Monday to meet the Backstreet Boys.
Ashley said she screamed, "loudly," when she found out and Lisa was there to take plenty of photos when she and a neighbor broke the news.
"I couldn't believe it," she said. "I thought, My wish is finally going to happen."
The delay in granting Ashley's wish was due to the fact that the Backstreet Boys have been on hiatus for several years while the band worked on new material and individual projects, according to Terry Garcia, a wish coordinator for Make-A-Wish of the Rio Grande Valley.
Ashley's wish came through in the nick of time. For more than a year, Ashley crossed her fingers, hoping she would get to meet the Backstreet Boys. The Make-A-Wish Foundation offered her alternative wishes, such as cruises or a trip to Disney World, but Ashley refused, holding out hope that her wish would come true.
Ashley finally relented and agreed to go on a cruise during her Christmas break this year. Then Garcia called with the good news. "They asked me if I wanted to cancel the cruise and meet the Backstreet Boys instead, and I said, Of course," Ashley said.
Ashley is set to leave McAllen for Los Angeles on Monday. The details of her visit with the Backstreet Boys are still coming together, but she does know that she'll be meeting with them in the studio. When she meets them, she has a few questions to ask.
"I want to know if they are dating anybody," she said.
"I also want to ask them if they'll come do a show at Dodge Arena (in Hidalgo)."
The Backstreet Boys are making final preparations for a comeback tour this fall. The international trek includes a new album and a performance in China on Sept. 24, a first for the group.
Ashley hopes to take yet another exciting trip next year. Her school choir is planning a trip to New York City to take in a few shows and see the sights. She and her mom are in the process of raising the money for the trip, which runs about $3,000.
According to the organization's Web site, the mission of the Make-A-Wish Foundation is to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.
To help send Ashley and Lisa to New York, call (956) 381-8246.
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