DOTHAN-It’s the simple things in life that make Fantasia smile: the movie The Jungle Book, watching basketball and eating ravioli all do the trick. But this sweet 3-year-old’s favorite thing in the whole world is the Rugrats television show. She likes these mischievous cartoon kids so much that she even lists their show’s musical theme as her favorite song. But no matter how happy these small things make her, they cannot make up for the pain she endures on a daily basis. Fantasia was born with renal tubular acidosis, a severe kidney condition that causes high acid levels in the blood, which can result in kidney stones, delayed growth, bone disease and progressive renal failure. As if all this weren’t enough, Fantasia even has asthma, is on several medications, and must use a breathing machine. “It doesn’t stop her,” said her mother, Ronda. “She still has enough energy for four children. She’s always cheerful and happy.”
So when Wish Coordinator Terri McConn of Kids Wish Network heard about Fantasia and her wish to go to Disney World for some fun in the sun, Terri quickly put together a trip beyond her wildest dreams. Her first stop was in Birmingham for a doctor’s appointment, but from there it was Florida or bust. Not only would Fantasia and her mother get to enjoy Disney and other exciting Orlando amusement parks, they would soon be sharing special moments at Give Kids the World in Orlando 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 lovely,” said Ronda about the village. “Fantasia really connected with some of the staff; they treated her like family. Every time we came back from a park she would look for them and they would take her some place; it would give me a minute to get myself together.”
While at Give Kids the World, Fantasia and her mother ate at the resort’s whimsical restaurants and she absolutely loved the ice cream parlor and being tucked in by the village’s rabbit mascot, Mayor Clayton. “I can’t express all the love she got while she was there,” Ronda said. “Each night there was a new gift for her at the villa.”
During their vacation, Fantasia and her mother enjoyed a full Orlando experience, visiting Walt Disney World theme parks, Universal Studios and Sea World. Fantasia’s favorite part was the special meet and greet at Universal Studios with her all-time favorites, the Rugrats. “She hugged them, they hugged and tickled her back,” Ronda said. “At Magic Kingdom we had dinner with Winnie the Pooh and friends, she loved that.” Fantasia was even unexpectedly picked out of the crowd to join the Aladdin portion of a parade at the Magic Kingdom. “That moment when they pulled her from the crowd, I started to cry,” Ronda said. “They were talking about wishes coming true and hers was, I couldn’t help but cry.” All attractions were compliments of Give Kids the World and Kids Wish Network.
“The entire trip was excellent,” said Ronda. “Being a single mom with a sick child, I never thought I could do anything like that for her. I can never express all the things that Kids Wish Network has done for Fantasia. Her dream came true and so did mine. Getting to see her so happy was my only dream.”
Kids Wish Network would like to thank the Civic Center Inn for donating Fantasia’s hotel stay while she was in Birmingham.
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.