1000 Paper Cranes for Leslie’s Wish

Since a lot of you LOVE D.I.Y projects, I thought I’d involve my readers in a DIY project to help someone else’s wish come true:

Leslie (Whitt) Williams is a 24 year old from Ohio who is quickly losing her battle with mitochondrial disease. I asked her older sister, Megan, to tell us a bit about her:

Leslie is spirited and spunky. When we were growing up she always knew how to make me laugh. She has a fearsome temper, but she is lovable in spite of it. She isn’t afraid to tell you how it is, and she has an amazing amount of love and respect for people. All kinds of people, too.

When she was able, she did a lot of volunteer work. She loved working with an organization here in Cincy called Starfire.

She has always been interested in science, medicine specifically. She wanted to be a dietitian. Leslie is also an avid reader. She loves books and she loves movies (romance and romantic comedies). Probably one of her all time favorite activities is shopping. Her and my mom shop all the time. Shoes, bags, jewelry, dresses, you name it. She has a keen eye for fashion and good taste.

Les has been married to her husband, Jeff, for a little over a year now. They are both really into sports. Leslie loves the Cincinnati Reds – they used to go to games together whenever they could.

One of the (many) reasons mito has been so hard on Leslie is she used to be so active. She played every sport you could think of when we were growing up. She loved soccer, softball, and basketball. It’s very hard on her, not being able to move around the way she used to.

Because Leslie’s body cannot properly turn food into the energy needed for organ function due to mitochondrial disease, she now relies on IV nutrition called total parenteral nutrition  or TPN since her digestive tract has shut down. She needs a wheelchair due to muscle weakness, frequent blood transfusions, and is frequently in the hospital for prolonged periods of time. She also has a service dog, named Billy! Read more about Leslie here.
Leslie is rapidly running out of time and has a bucket list of things she wants to do before she dies. Last week, The Dream Foundation granted her wish to see Reba McEntire:

Many of the remaining things on her bucket list include traveling – something that is being coming increasingly difficult for her as her symptoms become more severe. But there is one thing on her bucket list we CAN help with:  Leslie would like to fold 1000 Paper Cranes.

There is an ancient Japanese legend that anyone who folds 1000 origami cranes will be granted a wish, or in some versions of the legend, you get eternal good luck, long life, or recovery from illness.

Of course, Mitochondrial Disease is an energy metabolism disorder, so Leslie has very limited energy and can use our help folding paper cranes!

If you have a few minutes to make a crane for Leslie, grab a square sheet of paper, fold a paper crane, and write/stick/draw/glue some inspirational words, encouragement, positive thoughts, wishes of your own, etc., onto the crane!

I offered her family to use my PO box to collect them, then I’ll be sending them all unopened envelopes to her family on August 30th, so please mail them to me by August 29th and I’ll drop your envelope in the box to her family!

Mail to me at:
Little Free Radical
ATTN: Cranes for Leslie
PO Box 850673
Braintree, MA 02184
Read more about Leslie here.




Here are directions for how to make an origami crane:


  1. samuel says

    leslie is a truly good person who’s had a positive impact on my life. let’s do this for her.

  2. says

    You are such an amazing person, as is she. I’m going to make some and send them off to you, and I’ll also share this on FB.

  3. Randi says

    I wanted to update the story with the latest tally. As of this past Tuesday there were 4,403 cranes. :)