BIRMINGHAM – Rachel is a caring and strong 12-year-old who loves watching her favorite actress Julia Roberts on the big screen, listening to NSYNC and cheerleading. While Rachel seems a lot like other pre-teens, she has many more responsibilities than most kids her age. At only 6 weeks old she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, and consequently must remember to take 30 pills with her meals each day. Rachel must also wake up extra early every morning so that she has time to undergo her necessary therapy treatments that help to break up the congestion in her chest.
When Wish Coordinator Terri McConn of Kids Wish Network was contacted about Rachel and her dream to visit Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, she quickly put together an amazing wish so that Rachel her mother and brother would always remember its magic. Not only would they be visiting exciting Orlando amusement parks, 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, pools and variety of other amenities. “You could eat ice cream anytime of the day, from 7 in the morning to 9 at night if you wanted to,” said Rachel’s Mom Sherry. “It was such an amazing place. All of the volunteers were so nice to us, and everyone at Give Kids the World had the biggest smiles on their faces.” At the resort, Rachel made friends with a boy who coincidentally also had cystic fibrosis; they exchanged addresses so that they could still keep in touch once they were back home.
The family experienced new sights at the Magic Kingdom, MGM, Sea World, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Sherry said, “Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure were ten times better than we had ever imagined. Rachel is a daredevil and even convinced me to go on all of the scary rides!” With a special pin provided by Give Kids the World, Rachel and her family were treated like VIPs and never had to wait on a line at any of the theme parks. Sherry said, “Everyone at the Magic Kingdom went out of their way to spot her special button. Snow White saw her during the day and asked where she would be standing to watch the parade. Later on during the parade Snow White found Rachel and came up to her and kissed her hand. It was my most memorable moment of her wish.” All attractions were compliments of Kids Wish Network and Give Kids the World. American Airlines provided roundtrip airfare for Rachel and her family.
Rachel’s Mom said, “Everyone made us feel so special. There wasn’t anything more that we could have asked for or wanted. The wish helped us to forget about all of our problems back home and made us relax, something that we never have time to do. We are so thankful for the wish.”
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.