Every child deserves a chance at happiness … and granting a wish is a way of bringing them that joy.
International children's charity Kids Wish Network recently sent a Mexico girl, Ava Wilson, who is suffering from cystic fibrosis, on an all-expense-paid trip to fulfill her fondest wish. Ava is the daughter of Nicole and James Wilson of Mexico.
Kids Wish Network is a charitable organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories and improving the quality of life for children experiencing life-altering situations.
"Granting a child's wish provides them with more than just joy," said Kids Wish Network Executive Director Anna Lanzatella. "It also gives them hope for a happier, healthier future."
Eight-year-old Ava was born with cystic fibrosis. She and her 10-year-old sister, Madeline, suffer with the same illness. Madeline was granted a wish to Disney World in Florida a few years back through the local Dream Factory Chapter.
Cystic fibrosis causes mucus to build up on the lungs and can lead to many different life-threatening lung infections. Ava was also born with a medical problem requiring emergency surgery at only a day old.
Ava has suffered through many complications and was in and out of the hospital during her early childhood. She follows various daily treatment regimens, including enzymes and other medications, as well as percussion vest treatments to try and break up the mucus in her lungs. She and Madeline take 10 pills daily and do breathing treatments – twice a day if they are well, and more if when necessary.
Ava said she relies on Madeline "a lot" for support and advice when she has to undergo treatments.
"Whenever I complain about a medicine or treatment that I have to take, she lets me know if it's going to hurt."
Ava was given the chance to have a wish granted through Kids Wish Network after her grandfather, Dennis Chapman of Mexico, submitted her name. She asked to visit Disneyland in California. Her mother, sister and father accompanied her on the trip – which was taken shortly before Christmas, Dec. 12-16.
During the all-expense paid vacation, Ava enjoyed visiting Disneyland, Disney's California Adventure Park and LEGOland. She was also treated to dinners every evening and topnotch accommodations.
"My favorite ride was the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. It is the best ride I've ever ridden. I screamed the whole time," Ava recalled.
She also enjoyed the LEGO sculptures and the aquarium at LEGOland.
"Whoever created Kids Wish Network is awesome. I think it's a really good way to help sick kids have dreams and get to go places and have fun."
Nicole Wilson said "For Ava, the trip was a wish come true."
Aside from the "great rides," Ava also had the opportunity to meet Mickey, Minnie and Sleeping Beauty characters, Monster Inc. cartoonists, and "Jack" from the "Nightmare Before Christmas" movie. The family also enjoyed the fireworks and lighted water displays.
"Ava had a great time; we all did," Nicole Wilson said. "Everyone was so welcoming everywhere we went and they really made us feel special, and treated Ava like a princess. Thank you so much. This was definitely needed."
When Ava is not undergoing medical treatments, she enjoys playing sports. She likes playing softball, tennis, and dance. The third-grader recently signed up for the YMCA basketball program and looks forward to signing up for cheerleading in the future. The Wilson family has two dogs and one hamster that Ava really enjoys playing with as well.
Sponsors of Ava's trip included Disneyland, Disneyland's California Adventure, LEGOland, Anaheim Marriott, Tony Roma's, Outback Steakhouse, T.G.I. Friday's and Enterprise.
"The whole thing was great. I'm glad I had the chance to experience it. It's something I will never forget," Ava said.
The third-grader is a student at Eugene Field Elementary. Her favorite teachers are Mr. Green and Mrs. Wagner. Ava loves school, learning new things, and she's quite a conversationalist.
For more information on Kids Wish Network, visit the website www.kidswishnetwork.org. To sponsor a child's wish or if you know a child who is suffering from a life-threatening illness and may be in need of Kids Wish Network's wish granting services, call (727) 937-3600 or toll free 1-888-918-9004.
Editor's Note: Kids Wish Network Senior Editor Alicia True contributed to this article.