Wish mom Susan Smith shares Annabelle’s story…
My daughter, Annabelle, was diagnosed with Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH) at four years old. She went through one year of chemotherapy and has diabetes insipidus as a permanent side effect of the LCH. During her year of treatment, we were so thrilled to hear that she had been granted a wish.
Like so many other little princesses, she dreamed of going to Walt Disney World and meeting her favorite princess, Ariel. Our trip to Give Kids The World was so much more than a vacation for her and our family. It gave us something to look forward to during a dark time, gave us hope for better days to come and provided a distraction from the worry and pain.
My baby girl had come to fear adults she didn’t know, because they were always coming at her with needles and gas masks. She became shy and lost the self-confidence we had loved so much. But by day two at Give Kids The World, we saw her start to emerge from her shell. She started ordering her own food, talking to the volunteers, and approaching the characters. On the third day, Annabelle actually told me to wait at the table so she could go order some all-you-can-eat ice cream all by herself. I literally had tears in my eyes as I watched her confidence return while she skipped up to the counter. It’s a gift I could never repay.
My favorite part of the trip was when we rode Space Mountain. She insisted on riding, but I was so sure she was going to be terrified and traumatized. As the “rocket” came back into the station, she had the most exhilarated look on her face, and she yelled out, “let’s do that again!” With her Genie Pass provided to us, we were able to ride it over and over again. Yes, she met Ariel, and it was wonderful and special. But the photo of her exhilarated face taken by the automatic camera on Space Mountain will probably be my favorite photo of all time.
Thank you, Give Kids The World. That magical week in the Village sustained my daughter and our family during treatment, and we are eternally grateful.
To read more stories about wish kids like Annabelle who are part of our 35 Years of Hope campaign, visit www.gktw.org/35.