For three-year-old Madison and her family, her wish to visit the Walt Disney World® Resort came at exactly the right time.
“This past year has been the most difficult time of our lives,” Madison’s mom, Lisa, said. “We’ve been juggling this unexpected, serious, and rare diagnosis for our sweet little girl, and we’ve watched her embrace so many medical obstacles in less than a year.”
Judging by her sunny disposition and fun-loving attitude, no one would ever guess the battle that little Madison faces every day. She is diagnosed with a rare neurological condition, which has robbed her of a carefree childhood. Still, Madison takes on each day with a smile, and, thanks to Make-A-Wish® Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia, she had a magical trip to dream about.
“Looking forward to her wish was such an uplifting distraction for her. We talked about it a lot and counted down the days,” Lisa said. “It boosted her mood, and ours as a family. We focused on that instead of the health struggles.”
And when Madison and her family finally took off for Orlando, Florida, the experience lived up to every fantasy. She giggled more and more each time she rode the Slinky Dog Dash roller coaster in the new Toy Story Land, posed with a smile for a picture with Jessie and Woodie, met some of her favorite princesses, and even got dolled up like a princess herself at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.
When they returned to the villa they were staying in at Give Kids the World, a fairytale resort made especially for children like Madison, the magic only continued. She danced hand-in-hand with Mayor Clayton and Ms. Merry, the mascots of the Village, and continues to talk about the night that Ms. Merry tucked her into bed.
“She lights up, still, when she talks about and reminisces about that silly night and how Ms. Merry shook the sheets out and completely covered her body and head!” Madison’s mother said. “A few times a week, she still asks me to reenact it.”
For Madison’s parents, watching her wish come true was an experience that made their wishes come true, too.
“It was such a positive light for us during a very hard time. It meant a week away from the constant doctor appointments, hospital stays, tests, MRIs, and, overall, a break away from life consumed by medical care and treatments,” Lisa said. “It meant time to focus just on our family — just on Madison. It meant smiles, joy, pure laughter . . . time away feeling the sunshine and memories made that still warm my heart.”
Madison’s parents agreed that they hadn’t seen her that happy in quite some time.
“It was the best feeling,” Lisa said.
Now, Madison uses that spark of happiness from her wish to continue to fight and overcome
“She fit right in with the princesses, and matched Cinderella from head to toe,” said her Mom.
A wish can give a child the hope they need to fight harder, the strength they need to heal and a higher chance of survival. Learn more about how you can make an impact on the life of a child battling a critical illness by visiting greaterpawv.wish.org/ways-to-help or by calling 800.808.9474.