FAIRFIELD – India is a bright and happy 16-year-old who has big dreams of a bright future. She loves crafting, cooking and watching Emeril Live, hoping to one day utilize her culinary talents and cook at her own restaurant just like her favorite chef. “Cooking is a passion for me,” said India. “I’m happiest when I’m in the kitchen.” India keeps a sunny outlook on life even though since birth she has been fighting sickle cell anemia, in addition to other health complications including moya moya, (a rare disorder that leads to irreversible blockage of the main blood vessels to the brain), seizures and respiratory problems. India sometimes needs the use of a wheelchair for traveling longer distances, a walker and requires assistance from a home nurse aide. “Even after all of the obstacles in and out of the hospital and after all of the types of surgeries she has been through, India keeps a positive attitude and sets her goals high,” said her mother Pam. “She is my inspiration.”
When Wish Coordinator Melissa North of Kids Wish Network was contacted about India’s wish to visit Walt Disney World, with an enthusiastic bam!, Melissa kicked it up a notch also arranging a special dinner for India at Emeril’s Restaurant Orlando. Amid all of the excitement of her personalized wish, India and her family would also be staying 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.
“At Give Kids the World they treated India like a queen,” said Pam. “I loved it, everyone there was so friendly. It was a place that India could just be a kid and not think about her illness or her doctors back home.”
During their vacation the family enjoyed a full Orlando experience, visiting Walt Disney World theme parks, Sea World and Universal Studios. “We went to every park,” said India. “I liked the rides and getting autographs from all of the different characters.” All attractions were compliments of Kids Wish Network and Give Kids the World. American Airlines provided roundtrip airfare for India and her family.
The highlight of India’s wish was dining at Emeril’s Restaurant Orlando. “It was so amazing,” she said. “They were so nice to me. I got to tour the kitchen and try different types of foods. I couldn’t eat all of my dinner, but I ate all of my dessert!” India also received an Emeril T-shirt and chef’s hat as souvenirs of her special evening.
“India will always remember the whole experience and her trip to Florida,” said Pam. “I will always remember the smile that came over my baby’s face on her wish. I saw her face light up like a Christmas tree.”
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.