SILVER SPRING – Danny, a happy and energetic 4-year-old, loves Barney, singing Disney songs and every one of his pets (there are many of them to love – his family has a dog, cat, gerbil, bunny, hamster and fish). Danny was born with extra challenges to overcome, being diagnosed at birth with Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), brain injury, cerebral palsy and dysphagia, making it necessary for him to be tube fed. Danny also is developmentally delayed.
When Wish Coordinator Kara Stecker of Kids Wish Network was contacted about Danny and his purple passion for Barney, Kara quickly went to work on arranging a special celebrity meeting that Danny would always remember. Not only would they be going to Universal Studios to meet Barney and visit all of the Disney amusement parks in Florida, but the family also would be sharing 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, the family took part in many of its fun activities and enjoyed its restaurants with whimsical children’s themes, all-day ice cream parlor, interactive train station, arcade and swimming pools. Even though Danny does not usually eat whole foods it was a big treat for him to be able to sample different flavors of ice cream. “The people at Give Kids the World treated us so special,” said Danny’s Mom Kathy. “They spoiled my children rotten! Mayor Clayton (the village’s character mascot) tucked Danny in bed at night and the staff left gifts in our room for the kids. I most enjoyed not having to worry about cooking or cleaning.”
The highlight of Danny’s wish was seeing Barney perform at Universal Studios. His mom said, “When Danny saw Barney up on the stage singing, he was so excited that he nearly jumped up out of his wheelchair! After the show, Universal staff took him backstage to meet Barney and pose for pictures. Seeing Danny’s reaction to Barney was my favorite part of the entire wish.”
The family also visited Walt Disney World theme parks and Sea World. With a special pin provided by Give Kids the World, Danny and his family were treated like VIPs and never had to wait on line at the theme parks. Kathy said, “It was great because attendants let Danny ride attractions over and over as many times as he wanted.” All attractions were compliments of Kids Wish Network and Give Kids the World. American Airlines provided roundtrip airfare for Danny and his family.
While Danny will still have to deal with the uncertain challenges of battling his illness, his family will always cherish the happiness they shared together, when everything was absolutely perfect – in “Danny’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.