BROOKWOOD-Little Shelby is definitely a little lady. This adorable six-year-old who loves the color pink, does not like sports, but instead prefers to play house, listen to the Backstreet Boys, and play with her favorite toy, a cowgirl named Jesse from Toy Story 2. However, her lack of enthusiasm for sports might be more of a fear of injury. For most of her young life, doctors have told Shelby that she must be careful not to bump her abdomen because any trauma could cause her multiple spleens to rupture. While most people only have one spleen, Shelby was born with 14. Luckily, she recently had successful surgery to remove them all. However, she was also born with her intestines unattached to her abdominal wall, so when she moves, they move. She also has a severe heart condition, extreme hypertension and is at risk for liver failure.
So when Wish Coordinator Kara Stecker of Kids Wish Network heard about Shelby and her wish to go to Disney World to meet Cinderella and Pooh Bear, Kara quickly got this brave girl an invitation to her favorite characters’ Florida home. Not only would Shelby 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 wonderful,” said Shelby’s mother, April. “Being there was so amazing to Shelby.”
While at Give Kids the World, Shelby and her family enjoyed the resort’s whimsical restaurants and all of its special attractions. “Shelby loved the ice cream parlor,” said her mother. “We would eat dinner around 6:00, but the kids still wanted to have ice cream at 5:00. They couldn’t get enough.” Shelby’s favorite memory of the village was probably when her parents took advantage of “date night”, and she and her brother had a wonderful village babysitter and then got tucked in by Mayor Clayton, the park’s rabbit mascot. “They just kept talking about that night and being tucked into bed by the mayor.”
During their vacation, the family enjoyed a full Orlando experience, visiting Walt Disney World theme parks and Universal Studios. A highlight for Shelby came at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, where she liked all the water rides the best. “We wore ourselves out at the parks each day but made sure to get back to the village early enough so that we wouldn’t miss any of the activities there,” April said. All attractions were compliments of Give Kids the World and Kids Wish Network.
“I kept trying to find out what our stay would be like before we got to Florida, but nothing could have prepared me for how we were going to feel once we got there,” said her mom about the family’s time at the village. “It is just so special. They cover absolutely everything. The way they treat the kids just makes you want to cry.” No matter what the future may hold for young Shelby, she and her family can always remember a time when everything was perfect and anything seemed possible.
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.