BIRMINGHAM-“We try not to think about what might happen,” said Tammy about her daughter Kelsi. “We just like to focus on how well she’s doing at this moment.” But no matter how Kelsi is doing at the present time, there are constant reminders of her battle with a rare disorder called Costello syndrome. She has limited speech, needs assistance walking and must wear leg braces in the evening. This disease causes delayed growth, excessive and loose skin on the neck, hands and feet, a risk of tumors, and mental retardation. It has even affected Kelsi’s heart, afflicting her with cardiomyopathy. Through it all though, her mother says she’s always smiling. “It’s almost like she has a happy gene,” Tammy said. “If everyone were as sweet as Kelsi, it would be a perfect world.”
So when a professional fundraiser from Kids Wish Network, a charity that grants wishes to children with life threatening illnesses, happened to call Kelsi’s grandmother about a donation, she submitted her granddaughter’s name for a wish instead. It wasn’t long before Wish Coordinator Kara Stecker had a trip to Disney World planned for Kelsi so she could meet the people that bring the biggest smile to her face: Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh. Not only would she and her family get to enjoy Disney and other exciting Orlando amusement parks, but Kara also had a reservation for them at Give Kids the World, a special resort catering to the needs of children who suffer with life threatening illnesses. “It was awesome there,” Tammy said. “The people were angels, they were so good to us.”
While they were out discovering all that the magical world of Disney had to offer, Tammy said they also discovered something about Kelsi. “We found out how brave she truly is and that she loves roller coasters,” she said. However, they weren’t shocked at all by her excitement at seeing the park’s characters, especially Winnie the Pooh. “She was beside herself, she was so happy,” Tammy said. Kelsi loved absolutely everything at the Magic Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom, but her mother said her favorite park was Universal Studios. “We went there twice for her.”
“The trip was just perfect, we practically wore ourselves out,” Tammy said. “There were just so many surprises everyday; they couldn’t have done anything else to make it better.” She said that she and her family thank Kids Wish Network for the adventure because they never would have been able to do something like that themselves. “Seeing Kelsi interacting with other people, seeing how happy she was and watching people have a good time with her is one of my favorite memories of the trip,” said Tammy. “It was a wonderful, irreplaceable experience. “
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.