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“A Disney wish”
11 years old, Blandford Forum
11-year-old Lewis’ family never thought that it would be possible to go on a family holiday together due to his condition. But after going on the UK based Disney wish, the family's life changed for the best. Not only did they now realise they can go on holidays together, it also caused mum, Leanne, to have an ‘epiphany’. ‘It was life changing’ said mum, ‘I came back from the wish and changed jobs to spend more time with my family’.
When Lewis was diagnosed with a rare chromosome disorder, paediatricians told his mum that he probably wouldn’t make it to his second birthday.
Initially after receiving the diagnosis mum and dad, Darren, were ‘pleased, because we thought at least we know what he has’. But the reality of Lewis’ condition soon set in. His parents soon discovered that he was the only person with his chromosome disorder- ‘There’s no one else who has had it, there’s no one we can go to for advice.’
Because of his condition, the mental health of Lewis’ six-year-old sister Lily-Grace suffered. ‘She’s usually pushed to the side,’ said mum. ‘Her whole life revolves around Lewis. She can't have her friends over. we can never book something because we don’t know what could happen. It's impacted her the most.’
But if Lily-Grace could have a wish of her own, it would be for her older brother to be healthy ‘At Christmas she says all she wants is for her brother to be healthy,’ said mum.
Despite being told that his years would be significantly shortened by his condition, Lewis has defied the odds; he is now an 11-year-old boy who loves fireworks, rollercoasters, trains and Minecraft. Still, his condition means that trips away from home are uncommon for the family - nights away from home even more so.
This is what drew the family to apply for the UK based Disney wish. Due to the need for constant care, Lewis has never been able to spend a night away from home. ‘We have never been able to experience a family holiday, we usually have to leave him behind,’ said mum.
Lewis’ genetic condition has also resulted in a developmental delay which impacts his communication skills. ‘Lewis is non-verbal, so we didn’t know what he would like for his wish’. But when the opportunity came up for the family to finally spend a holiday together with Lewis, mum knew that it would be the perfect wish.
‘To go away as a family has never been an option, but we were finally able to because of Make-A-Wish!’ said mum.
'Lewis loved the wish!’ said mum. A smiling Lewis is a sight that the family rarely see. But as mum said ‘the photos from the wish make me cry just looking at them - he's smiling in all of them, that’s not something we often get. Although he can’t tell me that he enjoyed it, the smiles in the photos tell me that he had the best time.’
Lewis surprised his family by cuddling some of the Disney characters, something the family also rarely see. ‘Chip and Dale came up to our table during lunch and Lewis tried to get out of his wheelchair to hug them. He was laughing and smiling. It was a wow moment for us.’
Lily-Grace took on Jedi training and was elated to meet Spiderman during the wish. But to finally experience a holiday with her brother was the highlight of the wish for Lily-Grace.
"It was the first time I had been away with my brother on a holiday. I have no words to describe how amazing it was. I made so many memories that I will never forget."
The wish positively impacted her mental health. Before, a day out with her brother would have seemed impossible, but the wish gave Lily-Grace hope. ‘She was shown that we can be a normal family, it's given her confidence’ said mum, ‘it allowed her to be a child again and enjoy herself.’
The impact of Lewis' wish
The wish has painted a brighter picture of the future for the whole family. ‘It’s made us realise that we can do things together as a family,’ said mum. ‘Everyone is a lot happier’
‘It was life-changing’, said mum. After returning from the wish mum recalled having an 'epiphany’. ‘When I came out of the wish, I gave in my notice to my job and took a job with less hours so I could spend more time with Lewis and my family.’
As mum told us ‘All families with critically ill children deserve a wish because memories are all we have sometimes and wishes form long lasting memories. I’m so grateful for the memories that Make-A-Wish and Disney have provided our family with - thank you.
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