“It was a beach vacation specifically tailored to his tastes”
Little Ayden came into the world via an emergency c-section. During his birth, the outer layer of the umbilical cord connecting Ayden and his mother began deteriorating. It then detached and wrapped around Ayden’s body. He lost a lot of blood in the process. Afterward, Ayden was sent to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. A week into his stay, doctors ran a diagnostic test because Ayden was showing signs of Down syndrome. An initial diagnosis is often based on a baby’s appearance, but a chromosomal karyotype test provides a definitive answer. Using a blood sample, this test analyzes a baby’s chromosomes. In Ayden’s case, there was an extra chromosome 21 present in his cells. He tested positive for Trisomy 21, also known as Down syndrome. It is caused by abnormal cell division, and the excess genetic material causes life-long intellectual disability.
Ayden was finally released two weeks later, only to be referred by his doctor to a separate children’s hospital for further testing. Ayden’s noticeably high white cell blood count was cause for concern. The rapid growth of abnormal white cells in his body led him to be diagnosed with Transient Leukemia Myeloproliferative Disorder (TMD). This blood disease is found almost exclusively in newborn babies with Down syndrome and can be lethal. Since his initial diagnosis, Ayden must see a hematologist every 3 months to closely monitor his condition. He has developed severe rashes from the leukemia.
Now 4 years old, Ayden enjoys reading Mickey Mouse books, basketball, singing along to Veggie Tales’ greatest hits, and spending time in the water. Kids Wish Network gave Ayden a dream wish trip to the sunny beaches of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida! Ayden and his family were treated to luxury accommodations at the Diplomat Resort and Spa, an oasis complete with private cabanas and infinity pools. The hotel also had Mickey Mouse and Veggie Tales toys waiting for Ayden in his room upon the family’s arrival. Ayden had a blast playing with his gifts all week long while digging in the sand on the beach and splashing in the ocean.
On his wish of a lifetime, Ayden had the opportunity to spend a day as the guest of honor at the Flamingo Gardens, a botanical gardens & everglades wildlife sanctuary. The animal lover was privy to a private tour, a wildlife encounter show, a narrated tram ride, and visits to the otter habitat, panther and bobcat habitats, and alligator lagoon. The most notable activity on his itinerary for the day was a behind the scenes meet and greet with the gardens’ resident 600-pound American Black bear named Josh!
From bears to swashbucklers, Ayden’s adventures continued with a pirate ship cruise courtesy of Bluefoot Pirate Adventures. He and his family set sail on a treasure hunt along the scenic Ft. Lauderdale waterway. Ayden learned the official lingo of a buccaneer, how to dress like Captain Hook, and tactics used to ward off attacks of rival pirates with water cannons. It was the perfect precursor to the family’s evening at The Mai–Kai Restaurant. Ayden had a coveted front row seat to the festive local landmark’s Polynesian floor show. The tropical paradise serves dishes characteristic of the South Pacific with a side of flame dancing. The breathtaking performances are enhanced by the brightly colored costumes of grass skirts, sarongs, leis, and traditional feathered headpieces. Tiki torches, exotic plants, waterfalls, and rainforest décor further set the stage for making everlasting memories in a family fun atmosphere.
Ayden‘s beach vacation was specifically tailored to his tastes and all activities were planned according to his personality. The unique experience is one that Ayden and his family won’t soon forget.
“It is kind of overwhelming just seeing the extent that everyone has gone to make us feel real welcome,” said his dad Jonathan.
Kids Wish Network would like to thank the following sponsors for helping make Ayden’s wish come true:
• Diplomat Resort and Spa
• Brio Tuscan Grill
• Young at Art Museum
• Bluefoot Pirate Adventures
• The Mai-Kai Restaurant and Polynesian Show
• Fresh First
• Flamingo Gardens
• Enterprise Rent-A-Car
Tags: Bluefoot Pirate Adventures, Brio Tuscan Grill, Diplomat Resort and Spa, Down syndrome, Enterprise Rent a Car, Flamingo Gardens, Fresh First, GA, Georgia, leukemia, The Mai-Kai Restaurant and Polynesian Show, Transient Leukemia Myeloproliferative, trisomy, trisomy 21, Young at Art Museum