There was more than coffee in store for 15-year-old Raelee Longobricco on Thursday, as she walked into Dutch Bros, expecting to pick up an after-school beverage.
Parting the blue streamers in the entrance of the coffee shop, 933 Main St., she was greeted by family, friends and members of the nonprofit Make-A-Wish. The Mead High School student was presented a silver scroll that told her she would soon be granted her wish for an electric bass and cello. The gift will also come with an amplifier.
As she was taking in the room, including the balloons that spelled out her name, the Mead High School drum line swept into the lobby to tap out a beat in celebration of Raelee.
Raelee has wanted the instruments since she first found her love for the cello in the sixth grade. Listening to Croatian musicians Luka Šulić and Stjepan Hauser — whose band 2CELLOS transforms pop and rock into cello duos — first sparked a love for the versatile instrument.
“Before I started playing, I started watching them,” Raelee said.
Raelee tried to play flute before picking up the cello, but it was the cello that resonated with her quickly. She liked that it was a no fuss instrument. She could pick it up and just start playing. The teen plays for the Mead High School orchestra, where she continues to hone her cello skills.
“We play a lot of classical, but I will play literally anything on it,” Raelee said.
In December 2020, Raelee was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. The family found out about the opportunity with Make-A-Wish late last year. Raelee was excited to learn that she could ask for instruments, said Robin Longobricco, Raelee’s mom.
Longobricco said her daughter’s passion for the cello has grown since she first began playing the instrument.
“She just picked up that cello and for whatever reason, you could just tell it was natural to her,” Longobricco said.
Sarah Grosh, director of community development for the Denver-area Make-A-Wish, said kids are referred to the nonprofit through parents and doctors. The nonprofit serves children between ages 2 and 18.
Grosh said the nonprofit hoped to bring joy and excitement to Raelee on Thursday with the surprise.
“We have so many kids waiting for their wish to be granted,” Grosh said. “It’s a really sweet opportunity to celebrate them and give them even more joy and hope while they wait. Raelee’s wish will tentatively be granted in February. We thought it would be a sweet surprise and a way to tell her that it’s coming true.”
The surprise for Raelee helped to kick off a Make-A-Wish Colorado’s Kids campaign that will be hosted by Dutch Bros. Starting Friday, one dollar from every order will go to the campaign. The fundraiser will take place across the state at each of Dutch Bros’ 34 coffee shops. Dutch Bros also donated $5,000 to Make-A-Wish, according to a news release from the nonprofit.
A passion for music runs in the family. Raelee’s twin brother Mason sings in the school choir and her older sister, Mackailee, 18, plays clarinet.
Raelee said she looks forward to the fun that will come from playing anything on her new instruments. While she hopes to take lessons for the bass, she said the music for the cello translates easily, so she expects to have some natural aptitude for the instrument.
“It was a lot of fun,” Raelee said about the surprise Thursday.
This content was originally published here.