DUNCANVILLE – Justin is a funny and cheerful 13-year-old who loves to play video games, watch the Rugrats on Nickelodeon and the WWF. But just like Justin’s favorite sport, he is chronically wrestling with his health, diagnosed at only 6 months with cerebral palsy. He also struggles with other ailments including scoliosis, an eating and an emotional disorder. To help deal with the symptoms of his conditions, Justin uses a walker and wheelchair to assist him in getting around and a feeding tube and feeding machine to nourish his body.
When Wish Coordinator Melissa North of Kids Wish Network was contacted about Justin’s dream to visit Walt Disney World, she quickly put together a wish that Justin and his family would always remember. She would be sending his family on a vacation to Florida to experience the fun of its many amusement parks, and to share special moments at Give Kids the World in Kissimmee, a magical resort full of laughter, joy and hugs, catering to the unique needs of families who have children with life threatening illnesses.
Once at Give Kids the World, Justin and his family took part in many fun-filled activities offered to its guests. The village’s irresistible treats were even enticing for Justin who usually lacks an appetite. “You got to eat all of the ice cream that you wanted!” said Justin about his favorite part of Give Kids the World. “Watching him with all of the other children was so amazing,” said Justin’s mother Tracy. Most of the kids seemed to be very aware of their conditions. One little girl told Justin that she didn’t have a lot of time left. Afterward he told us ‘I know that I’m special, but there are kids even more special than me.’ It was such a wonderful place for all of these children who are always being told that they cannot do something. At Give Kids the World there isn’t anything that they can’t do.”
During their vacation the family enjoyed a full Orlando experience, visiting Walt Disney World theme parks, Sea World and Universal Studios. “At all of the parks Justin was given special attention by all of the staff,” said Tracy. “They would always go out of their way for him and show him attention – it was like he was the only one that mattered. At the Magic Kingdom they even set up a special boat ride for Justin to ride with Mickey, Minnie and Goofy – he was so thrilled.” Justin most enjoyed Space Mountain. He said, “The roller coaster really takes you to the extreme!” Another highlight was “getting slimed” at the Nickelodeon attraction at Universal Studios where his special request was quickly arranged by staffers. “It was a really weird experience,” said Justin. All attractions were compliments of Kids Wish Network and Give Kids the World. Delta provided roundtrip airfare for Justin and his family.
While Justin will still have to face the uncertain challenges of battling his illness, his family will always cherish the happiness they shared together, when everything was absolutely perfect – in “Justin’s World”.
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 a child between the ages of 3 and 18 who may be in need of their wish granting services, please call (813)891-9374 or toll free at (888)918-9004. You can also visit its web site at www.kidswishnetwork.org.