Shop with a Warrior: The girl who stole this group’s hearts


Sandy Dang

Sophomore Priscilla Petersen and juniors Chike Asuzu and Kelsey Dotson sat down to share their experiences of Shop with a Warrior and their fond memories with Mary and Cheryl Kilpatrick.

Sandy Dang, Reporter, Public relations

Mrs. Sheryl Cox, along with juniors Chike Asuzu and Kelsey Dotson, managed and planned decorations for Shop with a Warrior this past December, and while they talked, the topic of a specific young girl kept coming up. Mrs. Cox mentioned how the girl’s family previously applied for Shop with a Warrior, but could not afford to participate. This year, the school covered the family’s fees and also the volunteer group’s expenses.

“Chike emailed before I was contacted about Mary and he was talking to me about how Tribal Connection can be more involved with SWAW this year. And because he showed he can be like a leader, I talked to him about stepping up and being Mary’s group.” said Mrs. Sheryl Cox.

Sophomore Priscilla Petersen and juniors Chike Asuzu and Kelsey Dotson met eight year old Mary Kilpatrick at the 12th annual Shop with a Warrior (SWAW) event on December 16, 2017. Upon arrival, Kilpatrick stole this group’s hearts with her bright smile, energetic personality, and contagious laughter.  

The group arrived at NC early Saturday morning, previously told that they would meet Kilpatrick at Walmart. The group waited for a folder of information about Kilpatrick. At this moment, they remained unaware of who Kilpatrick was. Once they received the folder, they read through the wishlist for the immediate family members.

“My wish is for my daughter to be healthy,” Mary’s mother Cheryl Kilpatrick wrote.

This heartwarming wish immediately brought tears to Dotson’s eyes. In the folder stated information with Kilpatrick’s diagnosis of Cystic Fibrosis, explaining the previous years of Kilpatrick’s inability to participate.

“From the start, they touched my heart. I definitely fell in love with both of them, especially Mary. Her mom is just so sweet and so ready for her to do stuff with us and so excited, along with Mary,” Dotson said.

Cheryl told the group not to worry about the wish list for the immediate family, and to instead worry about only purchasing presents for her daughter.

The SWAW group and Cheryl exchanged contact information, and the group took Mary to begin their holiday shopping journey.

“Shopping with her was like being in a kid’s world, it was really fun seeing the world through her eyes,” Asuzu said.

Throughout the shopping trip, the group and Mary bonded over their favorite Disney characters, what she would name her toys, and what animal would hatch from her Hatchimals egg.

“My favorite memory with her is at the end because she wore a surgical mask, I was the only who got to see her smile, and she had a beautiful smile and it touched my heart,” Dotson said.  

To this SWAW group, Mary prevailed as a special girl to each of them. She touched their hearts in different ways, but left lasting and meaningful impressions on all of them.

“My favorite memory overall was when we stayed in the one aisle looking at dolls’ clothes because she was so specific and told us what she likes; you don’t see kids nowadays being specific with they like,” Petersen said.

Overall, this year’s Shop with a Warrior will remain special to everyone in the group, as Mary impacted each member’s hearts and formed connections with them.

“Mary touched my heart, and I don’t want it to be like a one time event and never see the child again like it has been in the previous years I have done it. I want to stay in her life and for her to stay in my life. I have her mom’s contact information and we get together whenever I can for lunch dates or trips to the mall or just to play with Mary. I just want to watch Mary grow up,” Dotson said.