My daughter Hailey was born the Monday after Mother’s day. I knew my life would never be the same, and I was prepared for that. Then she got sick, and I was terrified. When my daughter was diagnosed with leukodystrophy, I wanted to take her, hide from the world, hold her in my arms and just cry, and for the most part, I did do that. The social worker at the hospital where we were at referred our family to our local Make-A-Wish chapter shortly after the diagnosis. I didn’t know if I was ready to open up our lives and to accept that this was real, but our social worker said this was a way to help cope with our “new lives.” My first phone call with Make-A-Wish was full of tears, but I was soon calmed down by the friendly voice on the other end. The cheerful voice said they couldn’t wait to meet Hailey and her family, and they were excited Hailey would soon get her wish. At that time, I didn’t know what her wish would be because in 2013 Hailey wasn’t able to communicate with us, she was also only four-years-old, and her brain was working against her. I was told we were going to set up a day and time to meet with our volunteer Wish Granters to discuss what Hailey’s wish would be. When the day came, so did the nerves. Hailey’s Wish Granters arrived as Hailey was lying down watching the Disney Channel smiling every so often when Mickey Mouse popped up on the screen. They asked if Hailey liked Disney and if we thought she’d enjoy getting to go to Walt Disney World Resort for her wish. It was definitely something that was on our radar, but with a terminal diagnosis, you also get very high medical bills that pile up very fast. Being able to pay for a family vacation was not something we were able to do on our own or had even had the time to think about. Our Wish Granters told us the wonderful experiences other Wish Kids had, and when we asked Hailey if she’d like to see Mickey Mouse she looked right at us and smiled. We took that as a yes!
As the time came closer, I talked again with our Wish Granters and really opened up to them about not feeling ready. We didn’t have luggage, a way to get to and from the airport, or know what to really prepare for. When we met up to get Hailey’s itinerary for her wish, we were also surprised with the gift of luggage and were told Make-A-Wish was also arranging a ride to and from the airport. I was told that I didn’t need to worry about anything but Hailey and that everything was going to be amazing!
Our Wish Granters were completely right! We got a ride to the airport the morning of our wish and boarded our plane with no problems. Our flight attendants saw our Make-A-Wish shirts and made a special announcement that a Wish Kid was getting her wish of going to Walt Disney World Resort, and the other passengers clapped and wished us well. We arrived at the Give Kids the World Village and were amazed to hear the wonderful things that happened at the village, and we were excited to take Hailey to Walt Disney World Resort over the next few days.
Being a Wish Family at the Disney Parks was something so special. The way the characters got down by Hailey’s wheelchair and held her hand, signed her autograph book, and gave her kisses was incredibly sweet to see. As her mother, I just wanted Hailey to be happy and to feel loved by the characters she sees on TV. To see her face light up as she was transformed into Cinderella at the Bibiddi Bobiddi Boutique was a smile that I have permanently placed in my heart. When the princesses told her they loved her dress and her beautiful hair, it was extremely touching and even though tears would fill my eyes, they were happy tears. Hailey was experiencing something magical. We were away from our days that were filled with doctor appointments, therapy appointments, and phone calls battling with insurance. We were just together as a family, making memories that would last us our life time.
It seemed so surreal to me that my daughter was going to be a Make-A-Wish Kid. I would have never thought this would have been something that I would have to endure in my life. As hard and terrifying as it is to have a child with any life-threatening illness, the support that was given to my family is more than I could have asked for. The memories are mine, and they are mine forever, and I will always cherish that. Thank you isn’t enough for what they have done for Hailey. Even though Hailey becoming a Wish Kid comes at such a high cost with Hailey’s health, we are so glad and thankful that Make-A-Wish exists to help families. To be given special moments, kindness, and support, during the time that we as parents are caring for a child with a life-threatening illness is something we will always remember. After Hailey’s wish to go to Walt Disney World Resort was over, our relationship with Make-A-Wish was just beginning. Hailey would later become a Make-A-Wish ambassador and even do some volunteering as well! Her favorite thing to do is talk about her wish when we attend events. I love that the Make-A-Wish staff truly knows and loves Hailey. They are now a part of our family, and I love that. I love seeing Hailey talk about her wish! I love that she remembers it! As her mom, I want Hailey to be happy and to feel loved, and she is happy, and she is loved. Loved by so many! I have to thank everyone at Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada for that, along with the volunteers, and people who donate. My one greatest accomplishment is my daughter Hailey. She is amazing, and she is a Wish Kid and the best Mother’s day gift I’ll ever receive.