At the beginning of October 2011, Adam, his older brother William and his parents flew to America for a very special holiday. Thanks to the Make A Wish Foundation, Adam had been invited to visit Disneyworld in Florida to meet Mickey Mouse.
We flew with Virgin Atlantic from Gatwick Airport on 3rd October 2011 and stayed at Give Kids The World Village, a wonderful, whimsical resort in Kissimmee, Florida, which works with various Wish Foundation charities around the world. Give Kids The World was founded by the remarkable Mr Henri Landwirth. Mr Landwirth, a Holocaust survivor who moved to America after World War Two, set up GKTW in 1986. To learn more about him, his amazing story and his wonderful resort, please visit the Give Kids The World website, www.gktw.org.
Give Kids The World is an extraordinary place which is dedicated to allowing children with life-threatening conditions to enjoy a memorable holiday. The Mayor is a rabbit, there is free ice cream all day and Christmas comes once a week! We encountered nothing but the utmost kindness and thoughtfulness from everyone at the village, the vast majority of whom were volunteers.
During our week in Florida, we visited all of the four Disney theme parks, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and SeaWorld. As well as Mickey Mouse, Adam was delighted to meet Goofy, Pluto, Scooby Doo, the Simpsons, SpongeBob and many other favourite characters. He was particularly joyous at a character meal at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to meet Handy Manny, Special Agent Oso and June from the Little Einsteins.
We were delighted to discover that many of the rides in Florida's theme parks are designed to be fully wheelchair accessible, which made it much easier for Adam to enjoy them. In the picture below, which was taken on the "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" ride at Islands of Adventure, you can see that Adam is sitting in his Cheetah wheelchair while riding. The assistants simply pulled out the seating compartment, unfolded the built-in ramp and Adam was able to move directly onto the ride.
Other highlights of the holiday included Adam feeding the dolphins at SeaWorld and sitting in the co-pilot's seat of the Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 before the flight home. But of course the biggest thrill of the week was meeting Mickey Mouse, who regularly comes to Give Kids The World Village along with a host of other Disney, Universal and SeaWorld characters to meet the children. Mickey and Minnie happily posed for photographs and signed both Adam's and William's autograph books, as well as signing the feet of Adam's Mickey Mouse soft toy.
We have nothing but happy memories of our time in America and would like to thank everyone at Give Kids The World, Mears Transportation, Virgin Atlantic, the Make A Wish Foundation and of course Disneyworld, SeaWorld and Universal Orlando, for everything they did for Adam and his family. Not only has his special Wish Trip provided him with many wonderful memories, it has brought out so many positive changes in Adam.
Before the holiday, Adam did not like eating or drinking and his weight was causing great concern, to the extent that a gastrostomy (being fed by a tube inserted directly into his stomach) was a real possibility. Since his week at the Village, Adam is a changed child. He eats three meals a day and still asks for snacks. In just one month, he has gained half a kilogram in weight! His confidence has grown markedly. He is talking more, telling people what he wants and generally being a regular, demanding child. We believe these changes can be directly attributed to his experiences on holiday.
There are more pictures from Adam's Wish Trip in our Photo Gallery.