ASH GROVE-Young Brittany is an easygoing young woman with a zest for life according to her mother, Elaine. She is very energetic and enjoys many things, including: chocolate ice cream, shopping, crafts and watching baseball. Like most 15-year-olds, she also likes the Olsen twins, Mary-Kate and Ashley, and has a huge crush on the boy group, NSYNC. But that is where a lot of the similarities between Brittany and other teens end. She suffers from severe quadriplegic cerebral palsy. Her condition has her confined to a wheelchair, relying on a nurse’s aide, and speaking with a special communication board. “She has a lot of spasms and other problems related to that,” said Elaine. “But she really tries to overcome all the pain and look beyond it.” Elaine said their family philosophy is to take one day at a time and make the best of each day.
So when Wish Coordinator Terri McConn of Kids Wish Network heard about Brittany and her wish to travel to Disney World with her family before her brother left home for college, Terri quickly got her an invitation to the ultimate getaway. Not only would Brittany 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 like driving into a dreamland,” Elaine said. “The warmth of the volunteers and the staff was amazing.”
While at Give Kids the World, Brittany and her family ate at the resort’s whimsical restaurants, like the Gingerbread House Restaurant and the Ice Cream Parlor with its graham cracker roof. “It was like a fantasy, eating ice cream everyday,” said Elaine. They also took part in all the fun-filled activities offered to all of its special guests. Brittany’s favorite part was Mayor Clayton, the village’s rabbit mascot. “She developed a friendship with Mayor Clayton,” she said. “He came in at night and tucked her in. We have video of it all.” Elaine said that the other families there extended hands of friendship and that they learned a lot being around other families in similar situations. “You feel like you can overcome anything when you’re there.”
During their vacation, the family enjoyed a full Orlando experience, visiting Walt Disney World theme parks, Universal Studios and Sea World. Brittany’s favorite park was Universal’s Islands of Adventure. “She really liked the rides there the best,” Elaine said. “We were treated like royalty at all the amusement parks.” All attractions were compliments of Give Kids the World and Kids Wish Network.
“It was absolutely wonderful,” Elaine said. “We wish it wasn’t over. It was a chance for us to have fun with our little girl.” She said when they got home, their family had to wake up to reality. “The trip was the first time we could let everything go and not worry about doctor’s appointments and medical bills,” she said. “We got a chance to visit a world that doesn’t exist beyond those gates. Nobody wanted to leave.”
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.