CONCORD – Jessica, of Concord, North Carolina, is an adorable 5-year-old who loves playing dress up, anything purple and her favorite story, Alice in Wonderland. Just like Alice, Jessica constantly faces bizarre aspects of the world that she does not understand – especially concerning her health. She has cystic fibrosis.
Jessica has already undergone so many struggles for someone so young. She must wear a special vest for chest therapy, has to take special enzymes to aid her digestion, must ingest specific vitamins that her body cannot absorb properly and has had extensive lung infections.
When Wish Coordinator Terri McConn of Kids Wish Network was contacted about Jessica’s wish to see “Mickey Mouse, Minnie and Alice” in Disney World, Terri quickly went to work faster than the rabbit who was “late for a very important date.” Taking Jessica’s wish a step further, Kids Wish Network sent her entire family for a week’s vacation at Give Kids the World in Orlando, Florida, a magical resort full of laughter, joy and hugs, catering to the unique needs of families who have children with life-threatening illnesses.
At Give Kids the World, Jessica and her family dined at the resort’s whimsical restaurants and participated in many of the fun-filled activities offered to all of its special guests. “It was the best experience she ever had in her life,” said Jessica’s mother, Shelley. “She was treated like royalty. It’s a wonderful, wonderful place.” The resort even made bedtime a special occasion. Mayor Clayton, its loveable rabbit character tucked Jessica in bed each night. “I liked Mayor Clayton,” Jessica said. “He made me a birthday cake and gave me a bunny!”
Jessica and her family experienced many of Orlando’s main attractions, visiting Walt Disney World theme parks, Universal Studios and Sea World. While at Disney-MGM Studios, a staff member spotted Jessica wearing her special pin (given to all Give Kids the World children to receive preferential treatment at the theme parks), while waiting in line to meet Winnie the Pooh. Like a VIP, she was instantly brought over to meet all of her favorite Pooh characters. Goofy, not even scheduled for an appearance, came out from backstage especially to meet Jessica. Her Mom said, “Jessica’s face just lit up!”
It was a special time Jessica will always remember. While her health will still require special attention, her family will always cherish the wondrous gift, when everything was absolutely perfect – with Jessica in “Wonderland.”
All attractions were compliments of Kids Wish Network and Give Kids the World. Round-trip air transportation for the entire family was provided by American Airlines.
Kids Wish Network is a nationally recognized non-profit organization whose mission is to grant wishes to children who have life-threatening illnesses. If you know a child between the ages of 3 and 18 who may be in need of their wish granting services, please call (813)891-9374 or toll free at (888)918-9004. You can also check out its web site at www.kidswishnetwork.org.