Wish granted! Local organizations surprise 12-year-old foodie with 757 food tour

Alonna Willis.jpg
Posted at 2:23 PM, Aug 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-21 19:44:43-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — For a foodie, it was a dream come true.

“Here is your Meals and Memories board with a collection of gift cards," said Martha Davenport, Executive Director of the Virginia Beach Restaurant Association outside Zoe's Steak and Seafood on Sunday.

Receiving the gift? A 12-year-old girl from Norfolk.

Alonna Willis was diagnosed with leukemia in October and, while in treatment at Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters, was introduced to Toby's Dream Foundation; an organization that grants the wishes of kids battling life-threatening diseasse.

Her wish? She wanted to eat...and eat well.

“She is a very adventurous eater and we were delighted that her dream was this 757 dining experience," said Joan Steele, Executive Director of Toby's Dream Foundation.

Steele brought Davenport on board and together, with the help of partners at Zoe's, pulled together more than two dozen restaurants around Hampton Roads willing to donate meals to Alonna and her family.

The Sunday surprise of the Meals and Memories board and other gifts caused Alonna's face to break out in a smile as she stood with her parents. Among the restaurants that joined in were Orion's Roof in Virginia Beach, Press 626 in Norfolk and Amadeo's Italian in Suffolk.

“I’m a big foodie, I love food," said Alonna. "[This is] like having something that you always wanted. When you’re little, you want to be a dancer or a ballerina. That’s what this is for me.”

One of the stops will also be where the Willis family received the gift: Zoe's Steak & Seafood for a seven-course meal and the restaurant's Chef's table.

“She could’ve had any dream she wanted. Go to Disney, anything she could have asked for. She wanted to dine around the 757 and that’s really cool. It’s close to our hearts for sure," said Marc Sauter, sommelier and partner at Zoe's.

But the first stop was Orion's Roof on Sunday afternoon and the opportunity Alonna's wanted for a while — to dig into some sushi.

And it was just the latest good news in Alonna's life. Her parents tell News 3 she was recently declared cancer-free and her treatment is in the maintenance phase to make sure it doesn't come back.

Click HERE for more information about Toby's Dream Foundation.