RUSTBURG-Like so many other nine-year-olds, Chelsea loves NSYNC, Britney Spears, playing Nintendo and watching movies. Unfortunately, this vivacious and cute little girl’s similarities to others end there because she suffers from the unimaginable. Chelsea’s heart is in the right side of her chest instead of the left; she has severe scoliosis that has caused a rod to be surgically implanted to help with the curvature; and on top of all of this, she has renal and lung agenesis, meaning she only has one kidney and one lung. In her young life, she has had two renal failures, suffered with kidney stones and almost constant respiratory infections. Not only does the rod in her back require surgery every 4 months, but she must also wear a back brace for 23 hours a day. But despite all of her troubles, her mother, Karen says that she is happy go lucky. “She is just sassy and smiles all the time,” Karen said.
So when Wish Coordinator Kara Stecker of Kids Wish Network heard about Chelsea and her wish to go to Disney World, she quickly got her booked on a trip to some fun in the sun. Not only would Chelsea 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 way beyond our imagination,” Karen said, “Awesome is the only word to describe it.”
While at Give Kids the World, Chelsea and her family ate at the special ice cream parlor and rode the carousel as much as possible. “She never gets to go out and do much because of her health, so she had a great time there,” Karen said. “There were 2 days that my kids didn’t want to even leave the village and go to the amusement parks.”
During their vacation, the family enjoyed a full Orlando experience, visiting Walt Disney World theme parks, Universal Studios and Sea World. “She was treated so wonderful at the parks,” Karen said. During the parade at the Magic Kingdom, the staff escorted the whole family through the roped off area so they had a good view of the excitement.
Chelsea’s favorite part of the adventure was when she was picked out of the crowd at Universal Studios to participate in a Nickelodeon taping of Slimetime Live. “They just grabbed her while we were walking around,” Karen said. Chelsea was so excited when she got “pied” in the face and she even won a year’s supply of the candy, Airheads.
“The entire experience was awesome, “ Karen said. “I don’t think that we could ever go back because it would never be as wonderful as the first time. Chelsea came down with pneumonia on the way back from the trip, but she had such a wonderful time that she said it was worth it.”
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.