CONOWINGO-Fifteen-year-old Brandon has a lot of typical teenage interests: playing Nintendo, watching movies starring Robin Williams and Eddie Murphy, and listening to music. This young teen also enjoys watching Baltimore Ravens football games and professional wrestling on T.V. Unfortunately, while most teenage boys are trying out for these types of sports, Brandon usually has to sit on the sidelines. He suffers from spina bifida, hydrocephalus, and a seizure disorder, all of which make him rely on a wheelchair. He must take medication each day to control the seizures, has a shunt to direct the excess fluid away from his head, and suffers periodically from severe headaches. Despite all of his daily struggles, his mother Sharon said he is a vibrant, outspoken young man and is surrounded by many friends.
So when Wish Coordinator Melissa North of Kids Wish Network heard about Brandon and his wish to go to Disney World, she quickly got him an invitation for some fun in the sun. Not only would Brandon 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. “It is so wonderful when you have a child with special needs to be able to stay at a place that is 100 percent handicap accessible,” Sharon said.
While at Give Kids the World, Brandon and his family ate at the resort’s whimsical restaurants, and took part in all of the fun filled activities offered to its guests. “I liked the ice cream parlor the best, you could eat breakfast there,” Brandon said. His mother, Sharon said that he also took advantage of the pools and the whirlpool tub where he soaked at night after a long day full of adventure. “The whole village was just wonderful,” she said. “The place and the people were awesome.”
During their vacation, the family enjoyed a full Orlando experience, visiting Walt Disney World theme parks, Universal Studios and Sea World. “Brandon really enjoyed all the rides at the Magic Kingdom, like the Pirates of the Caribbean,” Sharon said. “He thought it was fun seeing all the characters, too.” All attractions were compliments of Give Kids the World and Kids Wish Network.
“We did so much while we were there, Brandon slept the entire way back home,” Sharon said. “The trip was just wonderful. I teared up a few times during the week, but I finally cried on the last day because everyone was so wonderful to us. The people that volunteer at the village wear shirts that say ‘I’m an Angel’ and they truly are.” 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.