FAIRHOPE-‘Sugar and spice and everything nice,’ is the recipe that comes to mind when people think about young girls. However, 9-year-old Samantha, as sweet as she is, has a problem with one of those key ingredients: sugar. Three years ago, she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes and her life hasn’t been the same since. Her pancreas doesn’t produce any insulin to break down sugar, so she must monitor her food intake, check her blood sugar up to eight times a day, and receive six daily insulin shots. “It’s a lot of pricks and shots each day, so next May we are going to get her fitted with an insulin pump,” said Keri, her mother. But as hard as this can be on a youngster, Samantha still tries to live a normal life and enjoys playing with her dogs, watching and reading tons of Disney movies and books, and listening to Britney Spears, just like her friends. “She is the sweetest child, has a very upbeat, positive attitude, and never feels sorry for herself,” Keri said. “She knows other children are much worse off than her.”
So when Wish Coordinator Terri McConn of Kids Wish Network heard about Samantha and her wish to go to Disney World to meet the characters of her favorite shows, Terri quickly got her an invitation to their Florida home. Not only would Samantha 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 absolutely wonderful, Samantha was as thrilled as she could be,” Keri said. “It was like a little never-never land.”
While at Give Kids the World, Samantha and her family ate at the resort’s whimsical restaurants and took part in all the fun-filled activities offered to all of its special guests. “She loved the Castle of Miracles and probably would have ridden the Carousel the entire time we were there if she could have,” her mother said. “She just loved all the shows and meeting the Disney and Rugrats characters that come to visit the village. We even let her enjoy the ice cream parlor like everyone else by giving her an extra insulin shot to cover it.”
During their vacation, the family enjoyed a full Orlando experience, visiting Walt Disney World theme parks, Universal Studios and Sea World. Samantha loved riding all the wonderful rides at all the parks. “Her favorite was Universal Studios,” Keri said. “We had to go back twice. She met the cast of the Rugrats and the Wild Thornberrys.” At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Samantha and her family were even picked out of the crowd to ride on Minnie Mouse’s float during a parade.
All attractions were compliments of Give Kids the World and Kids Wish Network.
“We can’t thank everyone enough who made all this possible,” said Keri. “Everyone there made us all feel so special, especially Samantha. It was so great that nothing we will ever do again will compare to this trip.”
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.