BILOXI-Little girls like to dream about what they will be when they grow up. And nine-year-old Brianna is almost certainly no different. Maybe she dreams about becoming a competetitive cheerleader in high school like the teens in her favorite movie, Bring It On. She might even imagine turning into a musical sensation like her singing idol, Britney Spears. Unfortunately, overshadowing all of these future possibilities is her very harsh reality. Brianna was born with sickle cell anemia, an incurable blood disease that causes joint pain, blood clots, an enlarged spleen and extreme weakness. But despite it all, she always has a smile on her face. “She’s a very outgoing child,” said Dorothy, Brianna’s mother. “We’re just lucky she’s feeling pretty good at the moment.”
So when Kids Wish Network was contacted by one of its professional telephone fundraisers about Brianna and her dream of going to Disney World, Wish Coordinator Kara Stecker quickly put together a trip beyond this young girl’s wildest imagination. Not only would Brianna 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. “The village was such a fantastic place,” said Dorothy.
While at Give Kids the World, Brianna and her family ate at the resort’s whimsical restaurants and enjoyed all of the amusing activities. “Her favorite part of the village was the all-day ice cream parlor,” said Dorothy. “All she wanted to eat were banana splits.” And Brianna absolutely loved being tucked in by Mayor Clayton, the park’s rabbit mascot. “We also met a lot of families from all over the world while we were there and Brianna is keeping in touch with some of the friends she made,” Dorothy said.
During their vacation, Brianna and her family enjoyed a full Orlando experience, visiting Walt Disney World theme parks, Universal Studios and Sea World. Brianna’s favorite things were all the rides and roller coasters at Universal and the Magic Kingdom. “She liked Space Mountain and Thunder Mountain the best out of all the rides,” Dorothy said. All attractions were compliments of Give Kids the World and Kids Wish Network.
“Everyone really enjoyed the whole trip,” said Dorothy. “We’d spend all day at the parks then come back to the village, and there would be even more activities for the kids. On the third day, the kids just wanted to stay at the village all day and play around instead of going to one of the amusement parks. And on our last day we all just went fishing there until it was time to go to the airport. We loved the whole trip, but if we had only been allowed to go to Give Kids the World for the week, that would have been fine by us. We just really enjoyed it, everything was excellent.”
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.