KINGWOOD, TX – Like most 11-year-olds, Alex loves watching baseball and listening to music. Puzzles and characters like Mickey Mouse and Barney are also favorites. But besides these interests, Alex’s daily life is vastly different from most children his age.
Alex suffers from a laundry list of major ailments, which require constant medical attention. He has severe cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair. He also has laryngotracheal malacia, cyclic vomiting syndrome and chronic respiratory distress. He needs oxygen, a tracheotomy tube, and a suction machine. He is tube fed and has a pump implanted in his abdomen and spine to deliver medicine.
When Kids Wish Network heard Alex’s story, they decided to give him a much-needed vacation to boost his spirits. Kids Wish Network recently sent Chris and his family to “Give Kids the World Village,” a special Kissimmee, Fla.-based resort catering to the needs of children who suffer from life-threatening illnesses. Alex and his family spent seven days in Kissimmee where they visited Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios, Animal Kingdom, and the Medieval Times restaurant.
“He experienced things I never thought he’d be able to experience,” said Alex’s mother Cathy. “It was incredible at the theme parks to see him flying through the air. He’s never experienced that and he just loved it. He always has so much pain, agony, and frustration. This was as close to being a healthy kid as he’s ever been.”
Alex wore an ear-to-ear grin the entire whole week, and basked in the warm glow of constant attention. “He’s a people person but people don’t often approach kids in wheelchairs,” Cathy said. “People were seeking him out instead of ignoring him. He was so interactive. It was incredible.”
The family’s wonderful week will serve as a powerful reminder during tough times ahead. Cathy said that when Alex undergoes his next painful procedure, she plans to use a vacation scrapbook to get his mind on more pleasant times. The family shot videotape and took 13 roles of film during the trip.
“It will evoke memories for him,” Cathy said. “The world whizzes by when you’re in a wheelchair and looking at pictures is a way for him to capture it. He loves to look at photographs.”
The family heard about Kids Wish Network several years ago at the Ronald McDonald House in New Orleans. Alex was undergoing medical treatment and a former wish child’s family had brought along an album from their trip to Disney and “Alex went wild over the pictures.”
When Cathy and husband Marc contacted Kids Wish Network, wish coordinator Luisa Frederiksen jumped on fulfilling Alex’s dream. “Kathy and I worked very closely for Alex’s wish to come true,” Fredriksen said. There always seemed to be some obstacle to overcome that we had to creatively put our heads together and defeat. Working for Alex and with Kathy was a wonderful 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 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.