Wilbur, Wilma and members of the University of Arizona admissions team waited outside a UA Medical Center hospital room, eager to file in and deliver an acceptance letter to the newest Wildcat: Kelsey Luria.
The doors were pushed open and the team — dressed in UA apparel and holding signs and balloons — poured in, clapping and chanting to surprise Luria with her acceptance letter from the University on Tuesday.
“I want to stand up,” said Luria, who was diagnosed in November with acute myeloid leukemia, or AML, a rare form of cancer. She then got to her feet and stood between Wilbur and Wilma, posing for photos.
Luria, 17, a senior at Catalina Foothills High School in Tucson, said learning about her acceptance at the University felt as if “big pressure” had lifted from her shoulders. Being in the hospital, and not at school, has been difficult for her to manage, she said.
“I was really surprised,” said Luria, who plans to study either journalism or athletic training at the UA. She already has written a piece about travel that was featured in the Arizona Daily Star and has spent time as a student athletic trainer at her high school.
Coincidentally, Luria was dressed for the occasion, as her hospital floor had instituted a “Bear Down Tuesday.” She sat in her hospital bed, wearing a navy blue shirt with the UA’s block-A logo, and the bandage on her chest read “Bear Down.” She clutched the envelope containing the news of acceptance and threw her arms into the air in celebration before high-fiving Wilbur.
Michael Luria, her father, said her condition requires four long cycles of chemotherapy and that she is currently finishing the third round. He said her future at the UA would give her something to look forward to as she concludes what hopefully will be her last round of treatment.
“Going to the UA was something that she would often talk about,” he said. “When she was facing cancer and diagnosed with an unknown future all of a sudden, it became that much more important to her.”