CLYDE – Brooke is an outgoing and talkative 5-year-old who loves cooking, singing “Itsy Bitsy Spider”, collecting dolls and her plush pink bunny. Brooke has a zest for life and is excited to take in everything around her. Looking at Brooke, she appears like any other healthy child, but looks can be deceiving. At only a month old, Brooke was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, a hereditary disease that affects the lungs, pancreas and digestive tract. “Brooke is excited about doing things but tires easily,” said her grandmother Betty. To manage her disease, Brooke must eat a special diet, wear a chest therapy vest twice a day and take a variety of medications.
During a cystic fibrosis support group meeting, Brooke’s grandmother spoke with the mother of a child who had cystic fibrosis and had a wish come true by Kids Wish Network, a charity that makes dreams come true for children with life threatening illnesses. Knowing that Brooke also had a special wish, Brooke’s grandmother submitted her information. A Kids Wish Network Wish Coordinator spoke with Brooke and found out that she dreamed of going to Walt Disney World. “She went when she was about 2 years old,” said her grandmother. “She wanted to go again after seeing the wonderful Disney commercials where it looks like you’re right there with all of the characters.” Kids Wish Network wanted to make it a wish that Brooke would also remember, so her wish coordinator set up a special Florida vacation. Brooke and her grandparents would be visiting many of Orlando’s amusement parks and sharing special moments at Give Kids the World in Kissimmee, a magical resort full of laughter, joy and hugs, catering to the unique needs of families who have children with life threatening illnesses.
Once at Give Kids the World, Brooke and her grandparents enjoyed all of its fun-filled activities. “It is an absolutely incredible place, ” said her grandmother. “It is full of spirit, love and support. It is wonderful to be with people that are going through the same things as your family. You look around and begin to realize that there are families dealing with conditions way worse than yours.” She continued to say, “All of the staff and volunteers were so wonderful, and there was always someone there for every need.” Brooke’s favorite things were riding the carousel, taking the village’s train to breakfast every morning, but most especially loved eating ice cream for breakfast. Brooke said, “I’ve never had ice cream for breakfast!” When Disney characters came to the village to meet the kids, her grandmother said, “Goofy made her feel like they were the only two people in the world. She was having such a good time at the resort that we had a hard time getting her to leave for the theme parks. Every child that we spoke with said, ‘I wish I could live here!’”
Brooke and her family also enjoyed visiting the Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios, Animal Kingdom and Sea World. All attractions were compliments of Kids Wish Network and Give Kids the World. American Airlines provided roundtrip airfare for Brooke and her grandparents.
“Everyone on the trip treated Brooke like a princess,” said her grandmother. While the family will still have to face the challenges of her disease, they will always remember when Brooke was the princess of her fairytale dreams.
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 a child between the ages of 3 and 18 who may be in need of their wish granting services, please call (813)891-9374 or toll free at (888)918-9004. You can also visit its web site at www.kidswishnetwork.org.