Alpena Girl Travels to Florida for Dolphin Swim

Alpena, Mich. – A 7-year-old girl from Alpena had her wish granted to swim with dolphins thanks to the help of national charity Kids Wish Network.

Before her first birthday, Mariah was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and epilepsy. She has seizures on a daily basis, and relies on a walker or a wheelchair for mobility. Doctors are considering putting a pace maker into her chest to help control the frequency of her seizures.

When a professional fundraiser contacted Mariah’s mother Laurie and told her about Kids Wish Network and asked her if she knew of any children with life threatening illnesses, Laurie decided to refer her daughter. Together with the help of Wish Coordinator Vanessa and Wish Funding Specialist Megan, Mariah was soon on her way to Florida to see her wish come true.

Mariah’s swim took place at Theatre of the Sea in the Florida Keys. Laurie said that Mariah was so excited to be able to swim with the dolphins.

“She would rather be in the water than anywhere else,” said Laurie. “Watching Mariah with the dolphins and seeing how much she liked it was wonderful.”

Aside from setting up the family’s flight and swim, Kids Wish Network arranged for the family to stay at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, ride in the Key Largo Princess glass bottom boat, and dinner reservations were made at Outback Steakhouse, Key Largo Conch House and The Big Chill Restaurant.

“The meals were all wonderful. The last night at The Big Chill a man did balloon animals and Mariah loved watching him make them,” said Laurie. “And we got to sit out and look at the ocean while we ate our meal.”

Laurie said that everyone made Mariah feel so special. She said people kept coming up and asking her how she did.

“She loved it. She had squeals of delight. It worked well because we ended up with a dolphin that had done therapy and he just loved Mariah. He took her off on her own and pushed her feet right up on the shore,” said Laurie.

Laurie said that her experience with Kids Wish Network was wonderful and everyone made her and her family feel so comfortable.

“I think everybody had a wonderful time. I would tell anyone to refer their child to Kids Wish Network,” she said.

Kids Wish Network would like to thank the following for helping to make Mariah’s wish come true: Alpena Alcona Area Credit Union, Dr. James T. Wolf, DDS, Fraternal Order of Police, Grace Lutheran Church, Moose Lodge #571, Outback Steakhouse, Theatre of the Sea, Key Largo Conch House, Alamo Car Rental, The Ocean Reef Club, Key Largo Princess Glass Bottom Boat and The Big Chill Restaurant.

Kids Wish Network is a nationally recognized non-profit organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children. Aside from granting wishes, Kids Wish Network also has several other programs which benefit children’s care facilities. If you know a child between the ages of 3 and 18 who may be in need of its wish granting services, please call 727-937-3600 or toll free 888-918-9004. For more information on Kids Wish Network, visit their website at


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