ORLANDO – Most teenagers feel that they are invincible and ready to take on the world. At 18, Kevin is thankful for each healthy day that comes his way. A year ago in April, Kevin was diagnosed with ALL (Leukemia) and is currently fighting his third episode of leukemia. Even though Kevin’s life has drastically changed, he still keeps his sense of humor and a positive outlook on life. He enjoys spending his time watching action movies, any basketball game against the Lakers and listening to Reggae music. “Kevin is high spirited and always acts like he is fine,” said Nicole Baxa, Kevin’s Child Life Specialist at Florida Children’s Hospital in Orlando. “He chooses to live life like he normally would, enjoying everything around him and living in the moment.”
Baxa wanted to do something special for Kevin that would bring some happiness into his life, so she contacted Kids Wish Network, a non profit charity that makes dreams come true for children with life threatening illnesses. Kevin spoke with a Wish Coordinator at Kids Wish Network and told her that he wished for a shopping spree at all of his favorite stores. Kids Wish Network with the help of Florida Mall management and many caring merchants quickly organized a shopping adventure straight out of Kevin’s dreams. But even before the big wish, Kids Wish Network built up Kevin’s anticipation by sending him a gift box containing a radio controlled car, cologne, photo albums, frames, sports caps, puzzles and an assortment of practical gifts.
And then Kevin’s big day arrived. From the beginning, Kevin felt like a celebrity with all of the special attention that he received. “A white stretch limousine picked us up and took us to the mall,” said Kevin. “It was really cool.”
Once Kevin arrived at the mall he enjoyed shopping, shopping and more shopping. Kevin didn’t waste any time. According to Baxa, “He was on a mission. When he went into a store he would immediately find something that he liked. At Wilson’s Leather I looked over at him trying on a leather jacket and he was absolutely gleaming. He was so thankful for everything that he received.”
As a special added bonus, Dillards Travel gave Kevin a plane ticket to visit his mother in St. Thomas. “I can’t wait to see her,” he said. Dillard’s also gave Kevin a gift card for himself and a bottle of perfume for his mother. “He was so thrilled to have a present for her too,” said Baxa. “This whole experience has helped Kevin tremendously. He never would have imagined an experience like this would be possible for him.”
Kids Wish Network would like to graciously thank Florida Mall, Dillard’s, Dillard’s Travel, Wilsons Leather, Saks Fifth Avenue, Beverly Hills Jewelers, Journeys, Mannequin, Swatch, FYE, Marshalls and Advantage Limousine for making Kevin’s wish a dream come true.
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.