Las Vegas Sun

June 16, 2019

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Priceless’: Young Las Vegan’s dream comes true with Chainsmokers at the Wynn


Courtesy Fabiola Rangel

Make-A-Wish recipient Sarah Hodge appears with Chainsmokers duo Alex Pall, left, and Andrew Taggart at the Intrigue nightclub inside Wynn Las Vegas on Friday, Aug. 17, 2018.

Sarah Hodge grew up wanting to be like everyone else but faced limits because of dealing with cystic fibrosis. On Friday night, she experienced something that few of her peers could ever dream of.

Hodge, 18, spent her Friday night as a special guest at Wynn Las Vegas — first in the DJ booth with world-renowned DJ duo The Chainsmokers and then eating at one of the venue’s top restaurants. The event, sponsored by Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Nevada, was disguised as a Make-A-Wish “ambassador meeting” to keep the surprise intact.

Instead, the recent high school graduate, who was born with cystic fibrosis, arrived at the Wynn’s Intrigue nightclub in pure shock. Waiting for her at the door, with a new MacBook Pro computer in hand, the Chainsmokers duo Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart embraced the 8-year Las Vegas resident and gave her the laptop.

“At first I was so surprised, I couldn’t put a name with a face,” Hodge said.

Any case of mistaken identity was soon put to rest as Hodge entered the Intrigue DJ booth with dozens of family members, friends and members of the local community. After spinning a few beats with Pall and Taggart mixing along on either side of her, the trio transitioned to an all-too-familiar song.

As the Chainsmokers’ former Billboard chart-topper “Closer” played from the speakers, Hodge was handed a microphone and sang along, smiling the entire time. She urged those on hand to dance as surprise shots of confetti and smoke shot from the Intrigue, and visitors responded by following along to the different beats.

“At that point I knew they were the Chainsmokers,” she said, laughing.

For Sonya Hodge, Sarah’s mother, watching the teen celebrate a dream come true was “priceless.” The younger Hodge, an only child whose life-threatening condition requires hourly medication and frequent hospital visits, requested the wish nearly four years ago.

But Sarah, who works as a hostess at a sushi restaurant and took the night off for tonight’s event, was growing weary the wish may never happen. Having it not only take place at the Wynn, but being with the Chainsmokers was “surreal.” She said the duo taught her how to change the speed of music with the DJ equipment and more accurately fade in and out of songs.

A graduate of Word of Life Christian School and incoming freshman at College of Southern Nevada, Hodge will study to become a certified nurse’s assistant before eventually going into nursing school. But Hodge said Friday’s experience has rekindled a newfound passion.

“I’ve always loved music, and it was amazing how my preferences for music were really similar to what the Chainsmokers like,” she said.

For Caroline Ciocca, the president and CEO Make-A-Wish of Southern Nevada, the opportunity to provide children and teens with life-threatening conditions the opportunity to live their dreams is “powerful.” Ciocca lauded the Wynn for providing the facility and said Friday night’s wish-come-true was “thanks to them.”

“To see her smile and to see the community come together for her is an amazing experience,” Ciocca said.