She battled cancer repeatedly. Nevertheless, Kayla Villela never lost hope. She spent many birthdays in the hospital fighting cancer. Because she spent so many birthdays in the hospital, all she wanted was to have a special birthday that she could remember for all time. Being of Hispanic descent, Kayla wanted to experience the traditional values of a real 15th birthday party. Only in the Latin community, it’s called a Quinceanera.

A Quinceanera is a traditional Hispanic birthday party that transcends a 15 year old girl into her future as a woman. A transition from childhood to womanhood. This is the year she grows and matures into the woman she will become.

Kayla never attended a traditional Quinceanera. Her mother never had one. Her aunts never had one. None of her friends had one. She decided she would have one for all of them. She wanted to have a Quinceanera that she and all of her family and friends could share and enjoy together. A grand and true traditional Quinceanera. Therefore, this was the wish for Kayla. A wish that would be granted in traditional style.

There were very important details that had to be met, important traditions to consider, and many, many people to invite. This needed to be handled by a professional. Someone with experience in these types of traditions and ceremonies. For that, I was directed to Esther Ponce. Esther is one of the most kind and loving individuals you could ever meet. She just happens to be in the very business of planning Quinceanera’s. And for this particular Quinceanera, she donated all of her time and knowledge to assist with this special wish.

This wish caught the attention of the community. Several businesses donated to the completion of the wish. “Lake Elsinore Ford” donated funds to assist with all the details of the wish. “Imagine That”, in Upland California, donated a large amount of time and services that assisted with the location, dining, photography, and other details associated with the planning of the wish. Along with Esther Ponce, these businesses are greatly appreciated by DCMF and the Villela family.

The wish entailed a grand ballroom, fancy old cars, a large entourage of friends and family, fancy clothes, and one very special dress for the birthday girl. The type of dress that makes any girl feel like a princess.

Hundreds of family and friends attended the Quinceanera for Kayla. A night that they all will never forget. Especially Princess Kayla. A night of dancing, partying, laughing, and ceremonial traditions. On this night, Kayla forgot about her cancer. She felt no pain, no sadness, no frustration of treatments, and no sounds of a depressing hospital room. This night was so special that for once, Kayla felt like there was nothing holding her back from enjoying this special day.

The Quinceanera was a big hit. A success beyond all of our imaginations. A night to remember for all who attended. Princess Kayla had the best birthday party she has ever had. And for that, we are truly blessed.

This story is about a Princess. A Princess who lived a very “Vida Especial” (special life). However, the fairy tail ended in the most tragic of ways. A month later, Princess Kayla succumb to her disease and lost her fight to cancer. Though she may have lost her fight here on earth, we all can be assured that she is still living the dream of a princess. Still wearing that special dress, still dancing, still laughing, and still feeling the happiness she shared with all of her family and friends the night of the Quinceanera. Princess Kayla fought hard, lived happy, and lived a “Vida Especial”.

In Loving Memory of Kayla Villela.

Theron Reed
Vice President, DCMF