Makayla’s Splash Mountain Memories

Makayla Gibson

“She radiated happiness throughout the entire trip”

At 18 months old, Makayla’s mom noticed that her daughter’s eyes were puffy. Thinking the symptoms were allergy related, Makayla’s doctor gave her antibiotics and a steroid to reduce the swelling. When the symptoms persisted despite the medicine, a series of tests revealed that there was a lack of protein in Makayla’s blood, a definite cause for concern. Too low of levels of protein in the blood could represent early stages of kidney failure. Her doctors determined that Makayla has Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerois. Biopsies showed that there is scarring within Makayla’s kidneys in the collections of tiny blood vessels called the glomeruli. The glomeruli assist the kidneys in filtering urine from the blood.

Makayla had some IV treatments called Rituximab that helped to put her condition in remission, but her body no longer accepts steroids to keep the swelling down. During a relapse, Makayla’s blood loses protein, which causes the swelling all over her body. The significant loss of protein can lead to kidney damage or failure as well as high blood pressure, which can result in a stroke. The Rituximab treatments are keeping Makayla’s kidneys from completely shutting down, a fatal outcome. She has lost a lot of hair due to her illness, and her puffy appearance made Makayla the target of bullies at her school. The Rituximab has been a blessing as it is currently the only drug that can give Makalya any semblance of a ‘normal life.’

Makayla plays saxophone in the school band and loves to draw. When she grows up, Makayla wants to be on the opposite end of a stethoscope as a doctor who specializes in pediatrics. She enjoys listening to country music, shopping, and riding roller coasters. Kids Wish Network designed a dream wish for Makayla by sending her to Orlando, the heart of theme park paradise. The Frozen fan was surprised when she opened the door to her spacious Double Tree by Hilton hotel room for the first time and saw an Olaf-themed cake waiting for her courtesy of Party Flavor Custom Cakes. The creative attention to detail made Makayla feel extra special.

While trips to Universal Studios and Hollywood Studios were highlights of her stay, for Makayla, nothing beats the moment when she had the chance to ride Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom. She loves water rides, and the reality of the experience definitely lived up to both her expectations and its name..

Makayla was also a VIP guest at central Florida attractions such as the new 400-foot high Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds and Sea Life Aquarium. She and her family were treated to meals at Emeril’s famed Tchoup Chop restaurant as well as Big River Grill & Brewing, but Makayla’s favorite meal was served at Portobello’s. The Italian cuisine was exactly what she was craving. Kids Wish Network made sure to cater to Makayla’s every desire and gave her the opportunity to make memories that will last a lifetime.


Kids Wish Network would like to thank the following sponsors for turning Makayla’s dreams into realities:
• Double Tree by Hilton
• Compassion Partners
• Big River Grill & Brewing
• Emeril’s Tchoup Chop
• Portobello’s
• Enterprise Rent-A-Car
• Merlin’s Magic Wand
• Sea Life Aquarium
• Madame Tussauds
• The Orlando Eye
• Party Flavors Custom Cakes

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48,632 kids helped this last fiscal year through our many programs and services.

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Kids Wish Network is a charitable organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children having experienced life-altering situations. Kids Wish Network assists children and their families through several key programs.