Ben is a happy 8-year-old boy from Galena, Illinois, who lives with his parents and his sister, Abby, and loves the color red. Ben is very active like most boys his age and loves to play all kinds of sports outdoors and in gym class. When he has to be indoors, you can often find Ben playing on his Wii.
At birth, Ben was diagnosed with transposition of great arteries, where two major arteries leaving the heart are connected to the wrong ventricle. Despite his struggles, Ben is staying healthy and remains on the right track with a smile always on his face!
Ben’s most heartfelt wish was to go to Disney World, and he went to the airport in a shiny stretch limousine. Once in the Magic Kingdom, Ben and his family checked into Give Kids the World Village (GKTW), a special resort designed especially for kids with life-threatening medical conditions. Ben’s mom described GKTW as “an amazing place with amazing people. We tell people about it, but words cannot even describe how wonderful it was.”
Ben rode a train and a carousel for the first time at the resort, and he later surprised his mom by riding a small ride at Disney World. Ben also got splashed by all the dolphins at a show at Sea World.
“I honestly have never heard Ben laugh so hard in his life,” Ben’s mom said. “It brings tears to my eyes every time I think about it.” Their trip to Disney World brought them so much hope and joy and made all of Ben’s wishes come true.
Daisy is a playful 7-year-old girl who lives in the Windy City with her parents and little brother, Diego. This little jokester is always looking to make her friends and family laugh and is super creative. She enjoys painting, playing on the computer and crafting.
In early 2012, Daisy was diagnosed with acute lymphoid leukemia, a cancer of the white blood cells. Despite her chemotherapy treatments that have made her tired and caused her hair to fall out, Daisy remains that playful spirit that her family knows and loves.
Daisy’s biggest wish was to have her own computer so she didn’t have to go over to her grandma’s to play and explore. Daisy waited by the door in giddy excitement for the computer to be delivered. When it arrived, she found it fully stocked with games and movies like Marley and Me, The Wizard of Oz and the Free Willy collection. The fun was only just getting started when Daisy discovered that there was also an iPod Touch and a new camera to make her wish even sweeter! Daisy used her new camera to capture all of the special moments on her wish day and could not stop dancing to the music on her iPod.
Daisy is extremely grateful for her Make-A-Wish experience and will never forget it. She truly has learned that wishes can come true.
Gavin is a rambunctious 5-year-old boy who lives with his parents, older sister and younger brother in Aurora, Illinois. Gavin can spend house zooming around in his cars and trains, and he really likes playing football. He also loves animals and gladly helps care for the family pets, a dog named Callie, a cat named Nala and a gecko named Cleo. When he does slow down, Gavin curls up on the couch with fruit snacks to watch one of his favorite movies, Toy Story or The Lion King.
In March 2011, Gavin’s doctors diagnosed him with T-cell leukemia, a cancer of the blood cells, where normal blood cells change and grow uncontrollably. Gavin underwent chemotherapy and now takes daily medication to stay healthy. Gavin remains an energetic and lovable little boy, despite his struggles.
When asked to reveal his most heartfelt wish, Gavin said he wanted to go to the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas and swim with the dolphins. Gavin woke with a smile on his wish day and looked out his window to see a stretch limo waiting to take him and his family to the airport. Once they landed in Nassau, Bahamas, Gavin and his family checked into Atlantis and began exploring the island. Gavin loved splashing around in the waves of the ocean and riding down the waterslides at the resort’s pool. Gavin and his family also took an exciting boat ride where they saw fluorescent fish and took many pictures. The best day for Gavin was when they went to Atlantis’ Dolphin Cay. Gavin put on a wet suit and took part in a sea lion interaction and dolphin encounter. He swam in the water with the dolphins and even gave one a big smooch! Gavin’s family was filled with joy watching him smile and be so carefree after a long year of struggling with his illness. The memories he made will last a lifetime.
Terell is a 6-year-old boy with a contagious sense of humor that is always keeping his parents and older brother laughing. Terell loves to stay active playing basketball outdoors or relaxing inside enjoying video games at his home in Westmont, Illinois. He idolizes all things superhero, so it’s no surprise his favorite colors are read and blue —just like Spider-Man!
Terell was diagnosed with multiple congenital heart defects at birth. He suffers from pulmonary value stenosis and ventricular septal defects, which is where holes exist in the wall separating the left and right ventricles of the heart. Although he has struggled with this his whole life, Terell remains outgoing and does not let his condition get in the way of loving his life to the fullest.
Terell’s big wish was to go on a trip to Disney World. A stretch limousine made him and his family feel like rock stars as they rode to the airport, and the VIP treatment definitely didn’t end when they checked into Disney’s Give Kids the World Village, a special resort designed especially for kids with life-threatening medical conditions.
Like most kids his age, Terell was excited to see all his favorite Disney Characters in person, especially Buzz Lightyear and the whole Toy Story gang. His dream got better during his week-long visit when he got to meet Buzz Lightyear himself. They exchanged hugs, high fives and tips for saving the world one alien at a time! From there, you could not stop Terell from buzzing around from ride to ride in the Magic Kingdom.
Terell and his family are so grateful for the memories they made on this trip and will never forget the time they spent together. Terell got to be the carefree little boy that he is, without a worry in the world.
Iryna is an 11-year-old spunky little girl who lives with her adoptive parents and four siblings in Minooka, Illinois. She values the love of her family so much that she’s sometimes described as “overattached to family” and is definitely a daddy’s little girl. She enjoys swimming, watching Dora the Explorer and taking care of her baby dolls.
Iryna was born with a life-threatening medical condition that makes her prone to infection. Even though she does not fully understand her diagnosis, she dutifully takes her many medications and goes on her many doctor visits happy and with a big heart.
When asked to share her most heartfelt wish, Iryna gave us a surprise —a pop-up camper! Iryna wanted a space of her own, a place where she could go escape and be whomever, do whatever and act however she wanted. The camper symbolized that very special place, and she could not wait to make it her own.
Iryna entered her new camper immediately and filled it with her favorite snacks; made a doggy bed for her puppy, Mishka; and blasted her favorite music that could be heard down the street. Iryna created her own personal safe haven and made her dream come true. Her pop-up camper might have the golden “no boys allowed” rule, but her family always has the special invite to come hang out. Iryna will cherish her special place for years to come and is so grateful to have an escape of her own.
Silly 7-year-old Isaac is a caring and compassionate boy who lives with his family in Montgomery, Illinois and loves animals. His favorite color is green, just like his favorite ice cream, mint chocolate chip. Ever since he can remember, Isaac has been obsessed with LEGOs, and he can often be found in his room constructing LEGO creations day and night.
In June 2011, Isaac was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a cancerous brain tumor. Isaac had his tumor removed and has received radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Although this has been a lot to deal with at such a young age, Isaac still maintains his quirky personality.
Isaac’s big wish, of course, was to visit LEGOLAND in San Diego. Isaac was thrown a special greeting ceremony at the San Diego Padres game before they hit the main attraction. While at LEGOLAND, Isaac was given the VIP treatment on the Master Builder tour, where he met with the Master Model Builder who showed Isaac how to create some nifty LEGO models, including one of Isaac and his sister.
After getting his LEGO fix, Isaac and his family went to explore the sea animals at Sea World, and even more animals at the San Diego Zoo. Isaac had the time of his life discovering everything San Diego has to offer and becoming a master LEGO builder. Isaac can’t stop talking about his trip; he and his family are so thankful to be given a week without any worries or doctor’s visits.