GREENVILLE-“She’s a character; she can be a little comedian at times,” said Roxanne about her daughter, Taylor. And just like a lot of young girls, this bubbly, outgoing 7-year-old wants to be a star; she dreams of becoming an actress or a super model. But Taylor also dreams of going through a day without pain or invasive medical treatments. She suffers from cystic fibrosis. Her condition forces her to receive nutrition in the evenings through a gastric tube in order to keep up her weight. She is also forced to wear a therapy vest that helps to break up the excess mucus that builds in her lungs. In addition, when she has a major flare up, the strong antibiotic IVs that she needs tend to burn up her veins. Because of this, doctors want to implant a permanent port in her thigh that will help eliminate the painful needle pricks. Through all of her daily struggles, Taylor is still smiling.
So when Wish Coordinator Terri McConn of Kids Wish Network heard about Taylor and her wish to go to Disney World for some fun in the sun, Terri quickly got her an invitation to the ultimate playground. Not only would Taylor and her 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 was so good for her to be around other kids with illnesses,” said Roxanne. “No one is ever a stranger to Taylor. She was able to relate and talk about her illness with them.”
While at Give Kids the World, Taylor and her family ate at the resort’s whimsical restaurants, like the Ice Cream Parlor with its graham cracker roof. “The parlor opened at 6:30 every morning; Taylor had ice cream for breakfast almost everyday,” said Roxanne. They also took part in all the fun-filled activities offered to all of its special guests. “Everyone at the village went out of their way to make us comfortable,” she said.
During their vacation, the family enjoyed a full Orlando experience, visiting Walt Disney World theme parks, Universal Studios and Sea World. At the Magic Kingdom, a park employee even gathered all the Disney characters together to surprise Taylor with a group hug. All attractions were compliments of Give Kids the World and Kids Wish Network.
“It was the chance of a lifetime,” said Roxanne about the trip. “The weather was so nice it cleared Taylor’s lungs. It was 10 days of freedom from her vest.” During one of her last days there, Taylor made a wish upon a star in the village’s Castle of Miracles. When she was leaving the castle, a rainstorm had passed over, leaving a double rainbow in its wake. When Taylor saw it, she said, “See, God was listening to me.” Her mom said it was an experience money couldn’t buy.
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.