WAUSAU, Wis. – A girl suffering from several life-threatening illnesses had her wish to visit the set of the Disney Channel show “Wizards of Waverly Place” granted thanks to Kids Wish Network and their friends at Disney Worldwide Outreach.
Hannah is a fascinating 13-year-old whose main interests are singing and acting. She loves being in the spotlight, but there is one type of light she’s had lots of experience with so far: the bright light over an operating table.
You see, Hannah was born with a condition called spina bifida. Right after her birth, Hannah underwent two surgeries for this illness. In addition, she suffers from chiari malformation and hydrocephalus, both of which have disrupted the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in her skull. For the hydrocephalus, Hannah has had to have surgery to place a shunt in her skull to drain the excess fluid correctly. Hannah also suffers from epilepsy and endures multiple seizures. She is experiencing left side muscle deterioration and must wear a brace on one of her legs. Hannah has endured approximately six surgeries in her 13 years and is on a rigorous daily medication regimen.
Hannah’s parents first heard about Kids Wish Network and their mission to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses when they received a call saying that Hannah was eligible to have a wish of her own. Apparently, a close family friend decided that Hannah more than deserved to have a wish granted and referred her to the charity.
After her parents completed the paperwork, Hannah found herself telling Wish Coordinator Vanessa that she wanted to visit the set of the Disney Channel show “Wizards of Waverly Place.” Vanessa got right to work on granting Hannah’s wish.
With the help of Disney Worldwide Outreach and many local sponsors in California, where the show is filmed, Vanessa arranged to have Hannah and her family flown out to Hollywood to enjoy some sightseeing followed by a trip onto the Disney set. Vanessa also made sure that Hannah and her family had tickets to some of the most interesting Hollywood sights, transportation everywhere, comfortable accommodations and dinners every evening.
According to Hannah, “Hollywood was exciting and so much fun! We saw so many neat attractions: Michael Jackson’s star on the Walk of Fame; Ripley’s Believe It or Not; the Wax Museum; and lots and lots of shops! We even saw Superman!”
As much as she enjoyed everything, Hannah’s favorite part of her wish was visiting the set of “Wizards of Waverly Place” and meeting one of her heroes, Selena Gomez: “[It was] Unbelievable! Selena was so nice and friendly!”
Not only did she meet Selena Gomez, but Hannah also got a chance to greet the other stars of the show, including Jennifer Stone, Jake T. Austin, David Henrie and David Delouise.
“Everyone at Disney went out of their way to welcome us and treat us as part of the cast. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Hannah, as well as her younger brother, Ryan.” said Hannah’s mom, Jane.
Hannah, who was fascinated by the way the show was filmed, was surprised to see how the whole set was laid out: “It really was strange to be on the actual set of ‘Wizards of Waverly Place.’ Everything appears very large when watching the show on TV. And, actually, the sets are much smaller than I expected! We were able to take photos with the entire cast, and also take photos of every set.”
All in all, Hannah said she truly enjoyed her perfect wish.
According to her father, Robert, “Hannah’s wish was granted beyond our expectations! It was really an eye-opener to see how hard all of the actors, actresses and other crew members work to put together an episode…Jane and I do our best each day to teach Hannah and Ryan the importance of always helping others, and not to expect anything in return. This is how we approach each and every day. So, we are really humbled by Kids Wish Network’s willingness to help Hannah receive such a positive experience. Thank you.”
Kids Wish Network would like to thank the following for helping to make Hannah’s wish extra special: Disney Worldwide Outreach, the cast and crew of “Wizards of Waverly Place,” Aaron & Kara Stecker, Captain Kidd’s Restaurant, ALS Limousine, Hollywood Wax Museum, Hotel Palomar, Midway Rental Car, Ripley’s Believe It or Not and Saddle Ranch Chop House.