FREDERICK-Eating pizza, the movie The Grinch, and Blue’s Clues are things that can make Benjamin smile. Anything Barney and Mickey Mouse can also put a sparkle in his eye. Unfortunately, this special teen has daily struggles that would prevent a lot of people from experiencing much happiness. Benjamin suffers from cerebral palsy, epilepsy and developmental delays. He is confined to a wheelchair, must take seizure medications and use a special board to communicate. Despite all these adversities, his mother describes him as outgoing and happy.
So when Wish Coordinator Terri McConn of Kids Wish Network heard about Benjamin and his wish to go to Disney World, she quickly got him an invitation to play with his favorite characters in Florida. Not only would Benjamin and his family get to enjoy Disney and other exciting Orlando amusement parks, they would soon be sharing special moments at Give Kids the World in Orlando, Florida, a magical resort full of laughter, joy and hugs, catering to the special needs of families who have children with life threatening illnesses.
While at Give Kids the World, Benjamin and his family ate at the resort’s whimsical restaurants, like the Gingerbread House Restaurant and the Ice Cream Parlor, and got to meet Mayor Clayton, the village’s mascot. “He loved the pools; they had wonderful handicap access with a wheelchair ramp going right into them,” said Rebecca, Benjamin’s mom. “He loved the fishing at the village and the game room.”
During their vacation, the family enjoyed a full Orlando experience, visiting Walt Disney World theme parks, Universal Studios and Sea World. “Universal treated us like royalty. The characters came over and met him personally,” Rebecca said. Benjamin also got to play in Barney’s special play land before he met the famous dinosaur. He also loved Sea World because of all the animal shows. All attractions were compliments of Give Kids the World and Kids Wish Network, and Avis provided Benjamin’s family with a rental car for their trip.
“We loved the whole atmosphere of the village. Everyone was wonderful, it was such a nice facility,” Rebecca said. “It was the trip of a lifetime.” She said Benjamin has watched the video of their trip hundreds of times since their return home. No matter what challenges this young man may face in the future, he and his family will always be able to look back to a time in their memories where everything was perfect and dreams came true.
Kids Wish Network is a nationally recognized non-profit organization whose mission is to grant wishes to children who have life-threatening illnesses. If you know of a child between the ages of 3 and 18 who may be in need of Kids Wish Network’s wish granting services, please call (813) 891-9374 or toll free at (888) 918-9004. You can also visit Kids Wish Network’s web site at www.kidswishnetwork.org.