Click photo to enlarge
Shelbi Zeien, 17, of San Ramon, poses in front of a Justin Bieber cardboard picture inside Macy's in Walnut Creek, Calif., on Friday Dec. 14, 2012. Zeien has been battling Crohn's disease for six years, and Macy's gave her a big send off, along with The Make-A-Wish Foundation, which is sending her to meet Justin Bieber next month in Colorado. (Dan Rosenstrauch/Staff)

SAN RAMON -- Shelbi Zeien has been one of Justin Bieber's biggest fans, ever since she first heard his song "One Time" four years ago.

Shelbi, 17, who has Crohn's disease, will get the chance to meet the superstar teen idol at a concert next month in Denver. All expenses will be paid by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

"It feels amazing," she said of the chance to meet Bieber. "I've been waiting so long, and I'm super excited."

On Friday, Macy's in Walnut Creek rolled out the red carpet for Shelbi with a send-off party as part of the store's National Believe Day campaign. Shelbi arrived at the store in a limousine with her parents, Dawn and Ralph Zeien, and her best friend, Miranda Vaughan.

Shelbi Zeien, 17, of San Ramon, left, and her best friend from South Carolina, Miranda Vaughan, 18, get a round of applause as they walk into Macy’s
Shelbi Zeien, 17, of San Ramon, left, and her best friend from South Carolina, Miranda Vaughan, 18, get a round of applause as they walk into Macy's in Walnut Creek, Calif., on Friday Dec. 14, 2012. Zeien has been battling Crohn's disease for six years, and Macy's gave her a big send off, along with The Make-A-Wish Foundation, which is sending her to meet Justin Bieber next month in Colorado. (Dan Rosenstrauch/Staff)

They made a big entrance before Macy's staff provided her with a makeover, a personal shopper to help her pick out an outfit for the concert, and she was loaded down with Justin Bieber-related gifts.

Shelbi's mother, Dawn Zeien, said her daughter has been on the Make-A-Wish waiting list for two years and is thrilled to be going to Denver to meet Bieber. She said Shelbi's struggle with Crohn's disease has been difficult.

"There is no cure for Crohn's," she said. "It's just no fun."

Shelbi attends Venture School in San Ramon, which has a flexible schedule that allows her to complete her studies while dealing with her medical condition.


Advertisement

At age 11, Shelbi was diagnosed with Crohn's disease -- a painful autoimmune disorder that attacks the gastrointestinal system and makes it nearly impossible to eat. Shelbi lost a dangerous amount of weight and survived through tube feeding. She has been hospitalized for long stretches several times and had a section of her intestines removed. The disease has prevented her body from thriving and has stunted her growth.

Zeien said her daughter has handled her circumstances very well. "She's your typical teenage girl. But she seems very mature on many levels because she's dealt with this for the last six years of her life. Right now she's in remission and she's doing pretty well."

"You grow from it," Shelbi said of the disease. "I think I'm a stronger person. I don't think I would be who I am if I didn't have it."

Shelbi said her friends are not big fans of Bieber like she is, but they all think it's awesome that she's going to meet him.

She's been thinking about what she is going to say to him when she meets him, but hasn't quite found the words.

"I'll think of something," she said.

Also Friday, a group of students from Fremont's Azeveda Elementary School arrived at the Macy's store in a Contra Costa County fire truck loaded with 39,000 letters to Santa that Fremont school district students wrote for the Believe campaign.

Macy's donates $2 for each letter as part of its nationwide campaign, which raises about $1 million a year for Make-A-Wish.

Contact Jason Sweeney at 925-847-2123. Follow him at Twitter.com/Jason_Sweeney.


Shelbi Zeien, 17, of San Ramon, poses in front of a Justin Bieber cardboard picture inside Macy’s in Walnut Creek, Calif., on Friday Dec. 14, 2012.
Shelbi Zeien, 17, of San Ramon, poses in front of a Justin Bieber cardboard picture inside Macy's in Walnut Creek, Calif., on Friday Dec. 14, 2012. Zeien has been battling Crohn's disease for six years, and Macy's gave her a big send off, along with The Make-A-Wish Foundation, which is sending her to meet Justin Bieber next month in Colorado. (Dan Rosenstrauch/Staff)