FLORENCE-At seventeen, most teenagers think they can conquer the world. Their only worries consist of getting a date, borrowing the car, and sending in college applications. However, for Sarah, these normal concerns take a back seat to her daily battle with epilepsy. Her condition is so severe that even her medication cannot completely control the seizures. Throughout her young life, many of these seizures have caused her to suffer brain damage, leaving her to only communicate at a three to four-year-old level. She has even had to learn how to walk, talk and feed herself all over again three separate times due to the extreme damage to her brain. But Sarah tries not to let all of this stop her; she wants to go to as many new places as possible.
So when Wish Coordinator Madeline Robinson of Kids Wish Network heard about Sarah and her wish to go to California to visit the magical world of Disneyland, she pulled out all the stops and even made sure that there was a surprise waiting for Sarah before her magical adventure : a personally autographed poster of Sarah’s favorite actor, Chuck Norris. “She loved it and she is crazy about his T.V. show; she thinks he “kicks butt’” said her mother, Patricia. Not long after she received her hero’s picture, she and her family loaded their rental van and headed for the Golden State.
The first major stop on their trip was San Antonio, Texas where they hit Sea World. Sarah was able to pet the porpoises and was drenched by Shamu the whale. From there it was off to the Hard Rock Café, where according to Patricia, Sarah was treated like a queen. “They were so attentive to her,” said Patricia. After one more stop to rest in Arizona, they arrived in Anaheim, California for the big visit to Mickey Mouse’s house.
“We were at Disneyland from opening until closing,” Patricia said. Everyone was tired, but Sarah made sure to ride all the rides, see all the shows and take pictures with all the characters. After a good night’s rest, Sarah’s family hopped a ferry to Catalina Island, where they saw dolphins swimming and jumping and got to experience a submarine ride that allowed them to feed the fish. After they were back on the mainland, they were able to visit with long lost family members who live in California; in addition to the reunion, Sarah and her family enjoyed a day at another of Disney’s theme parks, aptly named California. “Although some of the rides were a little scary, we stayed all day there too,” said her mother.
It was now time to head east and back home, but not before stopping at Bryce Canyon in Utah. Not only was Sarah able to take in the picturesque view of one of nature’s wonders, but she also had her very own ‘cowboys’ ready to lead the entire family on a horseback ride along the canyon’s edge and through the surrounding scenery. “We were very close to the edge of the canyon,” said Patricia. “We rode along creeks and Sarah was so excited when she was able to spot an owl along the trail.” After experiencing the national park’s beauty, it was time to pack up and head on home for good.
“Sarah had such a great time,” said Patricia about their 2-week journey. “She just loved getting in the car and driving someplace new each day. As worn out as she was during and after the trip, she woke up the first day at home and asked ‘Where are we going today?’” From all accounts, it appears this special teen exhausted her family and has no intention of slowing down any time soon.
Kids Wish Network would like to thank its gracious sponsors: Chuck Norris, Hard Rock Café, Thrifty Car Rental, Sea World San Antonio, Ruby’s Inn, Catalina Island Passenger Service, Best Western Lackland Inn, Burger King, Marriott Anaheim, and Chevron.
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 visit its web site at www.kidswishnetwork.org.