A four-year-old Alpena girl had her wish come true earlier this month with the help of Kids Wish Network, a national charity that grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. On Jan. 17, Marissa Powell returned from a five-day trip to Disney World with her mother, Karmen, grandmother, Nyla Huggler, and six-month-old sister, Hailey.
When Marissa was born she was diagnosed with bronchopulmonary dysplasia, a severe chronic lung disease. The illness causes serious respiratory problems for her and can mean a trip to the intensive care unit if she gets sick with something as simple as a cold. Karmen said Marissa has been hospitalized six or seven times in her four years and was recently diagnosed with adrenal insufficiency.
Despite having a life-threatening illness, Marissa is like any four-year-old. She currently attends HeadStart at Ella White.
“On a normal day for her, she is a normal four year old, except for size-wise,” Karmen said, noting Marissa is the height of an 18-month-old and the weight of an 11-month old. “Other than that, she can do just about whatever a normal four-year-old can do. If she can’t, she’ll figure out a way to do it.”
Marissa chose to go to Disney World because every time she would see a Disney commercial with the castle and fireworks she would say she wanted to go, according to Karmen. Although she got to see Cinderella’s castle and the fireworks, “The rides!” as Marissa exclaimed, was her favorite part of the trip. Marissa kept wanting to ride Dumbo the Elephant, which she was able to make go up and down and on the carousel which was next to it.
While at the Magic Kingdom, Marissa was able to meet and get autographs from some Disney’s most popular characters including Mickey Mouse, Cinderella, Snow White, Ariel, Sleeping Beauty, Pooh and Tigger. She also fed the dolphins and stingrays when her group spent the day at SeaWorld.
“It was awesome,” Karmen said of the trip. “People were really friendly; all of the characters were really good with (Marissa) and Hailey.”
Karmen was first contacted by Kids Wish Network in the spring of 2009 and learned Marissa was eligible for a wish. After submitting paperwork documenting her daughter’s illness, a wish trip coordinator was assigned and travel arrangements were made. Plans for the trip came together quicker than anticipated, with an initial trip date falling around Karmen’s ninth month of pregnancy with Hailey. The trip was postponed until this month, when the baby turned six months old.
“They were really gracious to work around my schedule,” she said, thanking the organization for making the trip possible.
The Alpena News