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Aiden’s Story, Shared by Mom, Denise Schaefer

Aiden was diagnosed with leukemia in December 2016. He was two and a half years old. As a family we were devastated, and we cried a lot. We will never forgot our doctor sitting us down, giving us a hug, and saying “don’t worry. Aiden will be just fine. And you will get a free trip to Disney World.” We thought that this was funny. And scary. We thought wishes were only for kids who were dying. Thankfully they aren’t.

During Aiden’s treatment, we lived in the hospital for 19 days while his twin brother lived with grandma and grandpa. He had five bone marrow aspirations and more than 50 spinal taps. Aiden never complained. He would have a spinal tap and ask to ride his scooter when we got home. He would fall a lot but would say that’s his new trick. Aiden’s intense treatment lasted for eight months, followed by two and a half years of maintenance, including daily chemo pills and monthly chemo in his port. He still never complained.

When Aiden was just out of treatment, we went to Walt Disney World and stayed at Give Kids The World. It was a trip we will never forget. Ice cream all day. Golf carts to take us to breakfast. Nightly parties. Characters coming to meet us at the resort. The train. Rides. Mini golf. We could have spent the entire week at the resort and never have to leave.

Aiden soared through treatment with the help of his brother; Mason kissed his boo boos, got his blanket when he asked, and kept Aiden playing and smiling. Give Kids The World made mason feel just as special as Aiden, which is something we always strived to do.

Aiden ended treatment the day before his sixth birthday. We were going to celebrate by going to Disney in 2020, but the pandemic caused us to reschedule. We recently went back in September 2021, and HAD to go back to Give Kids The World. My kids did not want to leave. The volunteers are amazing people and made us laugh and smile and feel so special. The Village is truly an amazing place with amazing people. They give people hope during the worst of times. It will forever hold a special place in our hearts.


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