“It was a beach vacation specifically tailored to his tastes”
Ayden experienced major blood loss during his emergency birth, sending him to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Because Ayden was showing signs of Down syndrome, doctors ran a diagnostic test and he tested positive for Trisomy 21, also known as Down syndrome.
Ayden was finally released two weeks later, only to be referred to a separate children’s hospital for further testing. The rapid growth of abnormal white cells in his body led to the diagnosis of Transient Leukemia Myeloproliferative Disorder (TMD). This blood disease is found almost exclusively in newborn babies with Down syndrome. Since his initial diagnosis, Ayden must see a hematologist every 3 months to closely monitor his condition.
Kids Wish Network granted Ayden’s once-in-a-lifetime wish and sent him to the sunny beaches of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida! Ayden and his family were treated to luxury accommodations at the Diplomat Resort and Spa, an oasis complete with private cabanas and infinity pools. The hotel also had Mickey Mouse and Veggie Tales toys waiting for Ayden in his room upon the family’s arrival. Ayden had a blast playing with his gifts all week long while digging in the sand on the beach and splashing in the ocean.
On his wish of a lifetime, Ayden had the opportunity to spend a day as the guest of honor at the Flamingo Gardens, a botanical gardens & everglades wildlife sanctuary. The little animal lover was privy to a private tour, a wildlife encounter show, a narrated tram ride, and visits to the otter habitat, panther and bobcat habitats, and alligator lagoon. The most notable activity on his itinerary for the day was a behind the scenes meet and greet with the Gardens’ resident 600-pound American black bear named Josh!
From bears to swashbucklers, Ayden’s adventures continued with a pirate ship cruise courtesy of Bluefoot Pirate Adventures. He and his family set sail on a treasure hunt along the scenic Ft. Lauderdale waterway. Ayden learned the official lingo of a buccaneer, how to dress like Captain Hook, and tactics used to ward off attacks of rival pirates with water cannons.
It was the perfect precursor to the family’s evening at The Mai–Kai Restaurant. Ayden had a coveted front row seat to the festive local landmark’s Polynesian floor show. The tropical paradise serves dishes characteristic of the South Pacific with a side of flame dancing. The breathtaking performances are enhanced by the brightly colored costumes of grass skirts, sarongs, leis, and traditional feathered headpieces. Tiki torches, exotic plants, waterfalls, and rainforest décor further set the stage for making everlasting memories in a family fun atmosphere.
Ayden‘s beach vacation was specifically tailored to his tastes and all activities were planned according to his personality. The unique experience is one that Ayden and his family won’t soon forget.
“It is kind of overwhelming just seeing the extent that everyone has gone to make us feel so welcome,” said his dad Jonathan.
Kids Wish Network would like to thank the following sponsors for helping make Ayden’s wish come true:
• Diplomat Resort and Spa
• Brio Tuscan Grill
• Young at Art Museum
• Bluefoot Pirate Adventures
• The Mai-Kai Restaurant and Polynesian Show
• Fresh First
• Flamingo Gardens
• Enterprise Rent-A-Car