SHORT HILLS NJIt has been eight months since Ava Covington’s heart stopped during track practice at Bloomfield High School. Because of the quick response of her coach to use a defibrillator and perform CPR, and successful open-heart surgery, Ava is now alive, well and tremendously grateful.

As a wish child with Make-A-Wish® New Jersey, her request was simple: to own a professional-grade cello. On Nov, 7, there was a celebration of Ava's wish come true.   

At the Macy’s in the Mall at Short Hills, she showed off her new lightweight cello and played “Ava’s Symphony” for her parents, Tamisa and Kenneth, as well as her 14-year-old brother, Evan, and many other friends and well-wishers.

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Ava, whose heart had stopped beating on two separate occasions during the rescue efforts, is now a bright-eyed and happy teen, living with apacemaker and the understanding that she will not play contact sports for a long time. 

She has found solace in the cello, which she plays for three or four hours a day. She hopes to one day attend the University of Pennsylvania, in which to play the cello on a grander stage with bigger audiences.

Ava said she first tried the cello in elementary school because she was the tallest student in the class and it happened to be the largest, clunkiest instrument. “For me, it has the perfect sound, shape and size,” noting the Make-A-Wish New Jersey cello is an $8,000 fine-tuned instrument constructed with carbon fiber. It comes in a lavender case.

“I am the happiest when I play the cello,” Ava said. “I am overjoyed to see others listen to my music with smiles. I am so thankful to Make-A-WishNew Jersey for this wonderful gift; one I will use every day and cherish for my life.”

Tom Weatherall, president & CEO of Make-A-Wish New Jersey, said the Macy’s ninth-annual Believe campaign made it possible for Ava to get her cello. The campaign, since 2008, has raised $13 million for Make-A-Wish®. That translates into a $400,000 annual donation for the New Jersey chapter, equivalent to about 40 wishes a year.

“While we are here today to celebrate Ava and her amazing talent, we also need to recognize the fact that 600-700 children in New Jersey are diagnosed each year with life-threatening illnesses,” Weatherall said. “Because of the generosity of Macy’s and our other incredible supporters, we can be there for these children with a smile, a hug and a granted wish.”

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