On July 15 2015, my entire family’s life changed. This is my family’s perception of the make a wish organization and what has been done for my family. We are a large family. Myself (dad) and Mom (Irma), Alan 6, Alaska 4, Bryan 11 and Melanie 9. Most impacted, obviously, my son Alan. Alan was diagnosed with “ALL” (Leukemia). Two and a half years later, after all of the scary procedures, rounds of chemo and high doses of steroids, our brave son was given an opportunity to have a wish. Alan was cancer free and we were ready to attempt life without restrictions once again! The amazing administrative assistant at my child’s school had overheard news of Alan’s diagnosis and asked if Alan had ever been given the chance to have a wish. I asked Alan what he wished for and since he already had his first wish (his mom…); I showed him a video of Disney World on YouTube. He loves amusement parks and that was his new wish about 5 seconds into the video. Not knowing that this was available to us or how to initiate it, she handled everything and in a couple weeks we were called and the trip was scheduled.
The scheduling was extremely flexible. We were called to come and meet with Clarissa, the person in charge at “a Wish with Wings” office. When leaving the office all of our children were given access to a large closet full of toys and told to pick anything they wanted! This was just a small bit of insight as to what we were in for; this trip was something my wife and I honestly could not have accomplished on our own. On April 7, 2018 , it was very early to wake the kids but they were ready faster than I have ever seen. I walked by the children’s rooms and told them lets go to Disney World and they were all instantly changed and sitting on the sofa. It really hit me as I finished putting on my shoes and looked out the window to see the first limousine any of us were ever going to ride in. Or when we arrived at the airport to watch the first airplane, any of our children were ever going to board. Right before boarding, we saw a familiar face. Clarissa, with bags, shirts, activities for our flight and an envelope with the solution to my biggest concern. The envelope was more than enough cash for the entire trip. When we landed at the airport in Florida there was the nicest woman holding a sign that Alan ran right up to and said, “that’s my name, this is for me!” I wish I could remember her name. She walked us to our rental car (that we did not need to refuel before returning). Pulling up to Give Kids the World Village (GKWV) then to out villa with our last name largely displayed, the kids could not wait to explore our new home for the next week. We somehow managed to visit every park at Disney, universal and Sea World (including Sea World Aquatica). The week we have had could not be purchased and will be a once in a lifetime experience. The genie pass and other passes given allowed us to park in all the handicapped parking spaces and go directly to the front of anything that resembled a line. We literally were able to walk up to and meet characters, be seated on a ride, watch a show or have special seating everywhere we went. The GKTW village office had a list of additional places we could visit and all we had to do was just call to request and stop by to pick up the tickets. We did just that for both the Crayola experience (good idea for a rainy Florida day!) and Sea World Aquatica. The pizza was Papa Johns at the villa and we ordered it at least once a day. The dining was amazing. We also had the choice of Boston market and a breakfast that honestly had anything you could want for breakfast, all complimentary. Alan made a star and had it permanently placed at GKTW. The kids were surprised every day with toys and prizes in the room. At GKTW Disney characters visited often, the kids got to ride horses, we could walk to an ice-cream shop, there was an awesome pool, the largest candy land game was on display and we got a free version of the GKTW candy land game. I do not think I could write anything to do justice to how amazing this trip was. If anything could give you an idea maybe, it is this. I don’t even know if the TV had cable in the villa because I really don’t remember tuning it on. We usually were only in the villa and awake for about an hour total each day. After getting back to the room from a long day we just walked in locked the door and fell right asleep… As for advice during your trip. I suggest getting all of your souvenirs from Walmart before going to the parks. There is a Walmart maybe half a mile from the village and you have to pass it to get anywhere. It’s the same stuff as the park but a fraction of the price. Oh and make sure you take pictures as it is a lot to take in (or at least with four kids it is…). We came back with around 1400 pictures as one of the kids had a camera in addition to my wife and myself. The parks also give you many free pictures so do make sure you stop at every opportunity to allow the people to take your picture.
To the families preparing for your trip; I am certain you will enjoy your experience as much as my family and I have. Best wishes!!!
To the a Wish with Wings organization and the Give Kids the World Village; thank you for all that you do. Your attention to detail and the level of caring has been unsurpassed by all of my experiences.