MOBILE, Alabama — Fourteen-year-old Connor Ferguson of Grand Bay had a wish come true in March: a chance to take a cruise to Mexico with his family.
The wish was sponsored by Kids Wish Network, a nationally recognized nonprofit organization that grants wishes to children ages 3-18 with life-threatening illnesses.
In 2007, Ferguson was diagnosed with myotonic muscular dystrophy, a progressive disease that has caused him to have heart blockage and severely weakened muscles. A family friend, Sally Vodney, made a donation to Kids Wish Network and mentioned Connor and his health condition to the professional fundraiser in 2010.
A year later, Jill Atchison, the team leader of the wish department for Kids Network, made the cruise come true at a time when Connor’s health would permit this type of travel and adventure.
“During the cruise, Connor was treated like royalty and even given the chance to steer the ship, blow the ship’s horn and have his run of the kitchens,” stated Alicia True of Kids Wish Network in an e-mail. “It was a great trip and perfect timing for Connor, who had been feeling down after recent trips to the hospital.”
Connor’s mother, Jody Johnson; his stepfather, Willie Johnson; his 7-year-old brother, Bryce Johnson; and his 17-year-old sister, Danielle Dixon, all accompanied him on the trip aboard the Carnival Cruise Lines ship. They departed on March 24 from New Orleans and returned to port on March 28. Before boarding the ship, the family enjoyed an Italian dinner and a night in a riverfront hotel in New Orleans.
“If Connor had to choose a favorite activity, I’m sure it would be a tie between getting to choose whatever he wanted to eat and driving the boat. But he really loved it all,” said his mother.
The master chef aboard the ship discovered Connor’s favorite flavor of cake and baked him a gourmet chocolate cake with layers of chocolate pudding and a sign on top that read “Happy Wishday, Connor.”
Besides relaxing on the cruise ship and visiting Mexico, the family, including Connor, went scuba diving and zip-lining in Cozumel.
“It was so wonderful to be able to help make Connor’s wish come true. He is such a great kid and deserved to have this special getaway. I’m so delighted that he enjoyed himself so much,” said Atchison.
Connor is a seventh-grader at Grand Bay Middle School. Kids Wish Network would like to thank the following for helping to make Connor’s wish extra special: Friendship Baptist Church of Grand Bay and the VFW Post 4328 Robert H. Miller Post were among the organizations that helped with Connor’s dream trip. Carnival Cruise Lines; Wyndham Riverfront New Orleans; Pie, Pizza & Pasta; and the Port of New Orleans.