"I haven’t seen her this happy in years."
Everyone needs a little extra kindness sometimes — and in Ashlyn Chamberlain’s case, it was entirely deserved. The Connecticut teen, 18, was born 10 weeks early with a heart condition and had her first surgery to place a shunt in her brain to treat hydrocephalus (pressure caused by fluid surrounding the brain tissue) at just 4 weeks old. Since then, Ashlyn has been through an additional nine surgeries for varying things and was diagnosed with a Chiari malformation, a condition in which brain tissue extends into the spinal canal, resulting in an abnormally small or misshapen skull, according to the Mayo Clinic.
In July 2015, hoping to give her daughter a break from the stress of everyday life and treat her to a weekend with her favorite TV show characters, whom she said got her Ashlyn through her long hospital stays, Ashlyn’s mom reached out to Random Acts, after several unsuccessful attempts to accomplish her goal through other channels. “I explained to (Random Acts Director) Cinde some of what Ashlyn had been through and that her wish was to meet the cast of Supernatural, but with everything going on, I was not in a position to buy convention tickets to make that wish possible myself,” Dorothy Chamberlain said. After several email exchanges, Cinde and the Random Acts staff decided to send Ashlyn to Creation Entertainment’s Official Supernatural Convention in New Jersey in the fall of 2015 — there, she would be the honored guest at Random Acts’ five-year anniversary celebration, held during the traditional Friday night karaoke party.
A short while prior to the convention, however, those plans were changed, due to additional health complications. “As it turned out, a month after [we finalized the details], Ashlyn’s shunt failed, resulting in an emergency surgery and then another surgery in September,” Dorothy explained. “The surgery was close to convention date, and due to the nature of the surgery itself, we had to keep her calm for a good week or two afterward.” Despite missing out on the five-year anniversary party, the staff at Creation, the actors, and all those involved with pulling of the memorable celebration were able to give a massive video shout-out to Ashlyn anyway — something Ashlyn later said triggered a wave of emotions.
“As soon as [they all] did the shout-out, I was in tears,” she said, referencing the video of the karaoke party attendees and actors telling her to “get well soon.”
A few months later, Ashlyn, Dorothy, and Ashlyn’s best friend Mackenzie — whom Dorothy described as “more like [Ashlyn’s] sister” — were able to make it to Creation Entertainment’s Official Supernatural Convention in Washington D.C., at Random Acts’ invitation. There, she and her friend were able to attend a private meet and greet with Supernatural actor and Random Acts co-founder Misha Collins. “I always believed him to be a kind and compassionate man but in that meeting he proved it,” Dorothy said later, of their meeting with Misha. “He asked questions and intently listened offering words of encouragement as well as several laughs. He talked openly and asked about Ashlyn and her surgeries — not out of politeness, but because he really wanted to know and understand. … His Twitter bio says he’s an “Actor, Baker, and Candlestick Maker” — I don’t know about candles, but he’s definitely a maker of dreams.”
After her visit to the convention, Ashlyn was also gifted with an afternoon of visits to the many Smithsonian museums along the National Mall in Washington, accompanied by Random Acts staffers Juliana and Sam. “We just had to see if we could bring a few days of unexpected random happiness into Ashlyn’s life,” Director Cinde said.
So what did Ashlyn and her mother think of the big convention weekend outing? “I was ecstatic,” she said, in a sit-down with Cinde during the convention weekend. “I couldn’t stop screaming and […] I couldn’t sleep.”
“As a parent,” Dorothy added, “when someone reaches out to your child like that… it brings you back from the edge. … And when that happens, you want to go out and spread that joy.” Added Mackenzie, “I’ve never seen [Ashlyn] this happy before. … [It makes] you want to pay it forward.”
Check out our video of Ashlyn’s big weekend below: