LONG BEACH-Listening to music and watching sports make 11-year-old Latoya happy. And like a lot of girls her age, at the top of her musical list are Janet Jackson and Destiny’s Child. And as for sports, this spunky young girl absolutely loves cheering on the L.A. Lakers, led by her hero, Shaquille O’Neal. But unfortunately, Latoya will scarcely be able to do more than dream about performing in a music video or making a slam-dunk. She was born with cerebral palsy. She requires use of either a walker or a wheelchair depending upon the distance, and her condition also has her relying upon a breathing machine. But through it all, she doesn’t let it get her down.
So when a Wish Coordinator from Kids Wish Network heard about Latoya and her wish to go to Disney World for some fun in the sun, she quickly put together a trip beyond her wildest dreams. It began with a chauffeured limousine ride to the airport where they boarded a plane headed for Mickey Mouse’s Florida home. “She was so surprised by the limo ride,” said Margaret, Latoya’s mother. “It was excellent.” When they arrived in the Sunshine State, not only would Latoya 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 a magical resort full of laughter, joy and hugs, catering to the special needs of families who have children with life threatening illnesses.
While at Give Kids the World, Latoya and her family ate at the resort’s whimsical restaurants like the Gingerbread House Restaurant and the all day Ice Cream Parlor with its graham cracker roof. “Her favorite things there were eating ice cream and playing the arcade games,” Margaret said. They also took part in all the fun-filled activities offered to all of its special guests, like the train that takes guests around the park and the Safari Theatre that shows family classics.
During their vacation, Latoya and her family enjoyed a full Orlando experience, visiting Walt Disney World theme parks, Universal Studios and Sea World. Latoya’s favorite part was riding all the roller coasters at Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure theme park. All attractions were compliments of Give Kids the World and Kids Wish Network.
“Everything was just beautiful,” said Margaret about the trip. “The staff was wonderful, I just loved meeting all the people. It was a great time for Latoya.” Now, no matter what the future may hold for this young lady and her family, they can look back on a time when everything was perfect and remember a place where dreams really do come true.
Kids Wish Network would like to thank A Regal Limousine Service for donating Latoya’s limo ride to and from the airport in New Orleans at a discounted rate.
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.