for Your Children"
Last September when Atia turned three years old, our child life specialist referred us to the Make-A-Wish foundation. Within weeks, three wish granters - Dina, Katie and Nicole - came over to our house for the initial meeting; they were kind, full of energy and donned smiles from ear-to-ear.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich their lives with hope, strength and joy. Since 1985, the Foundation has granted more than 9,000 wishes in Illinois.
Atia was a little shy at first, but quickly warmed up. Dina, Katie and Nicole made us feel as though we'd been friends forever. They were great with Atia and Asher; they brought toys and didn't hesitate to get down on the floor and play with them.
At that visit we shared Atia's wish: TO SWIM WITH THE DOLPHINS.
The question became: Where to do it?
Atia adores Mickey and Minnie Mouse, so the natural conclusion was to consider Disney World and Sea World. But as you know, we have family that lives in Orlando, and in the future we will definitely be making several trips to Disney. We thought our Make-A-Wish trip should be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so we wanted to go somewhere we many never get to go again...
And that's when the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas came to mind. We had recently seen tons of commercials for it, which had piqued Atia's interest and elicited excitement. But, Steve and I didn't know if our wish granters would think it too exotic. So, we timidly mentioned it.
To our surprise, Nicole, Katie and Dina didn't bat an eyelash. With sincere smiles, they explained that they are in the business of making wishes come true, so if that was our wish then they would do everything possible to make it happen. They reassured us that other families had gone to the Atlantis; some even went to China, France and Africa!
From start-to-finish, fulfilling a wish typically takes between six to nine months. One of the critical pieces was to get Dr. Rubin's approval for Atia to leave the country.
Within weeks we had our answer: Yes.
YES! The planning began... among other things, the kids and I had to get our passports (mine still had my maiden name).
In November (2010), Katie and Nicole came over to make the big announcement to Atia that she was officially going to the Atlantis Resort. They brought ice cream, dolphin sprinkles and everything else one needs for ice cream sundaes. They also brought some wonderful dolphin bath toys for the kids.
Being the detailed planner that I am, I went through the Atlantis website with a fine-toothed comb outlining everything I thought Atia would enjoy doing. In the end, I had created a one page document listing the hotel we'd most like to stay in (and two backups if the first wasn't an option) and the many specific activities I knew Atia would love.
I made a point to partner with our wish granters to make sure that it was the best possible trip it could be. Seeing Atia's eyes light up, making her smile and hearing her giggle was my top priority.
On April 25 2011, the Monday before our trip, Nicole and Katie came over to go over our final itinerary. They also brought two bags of goodies for the kids. It was so very, very exciting.
We were provided our airline reservations, vouchers for several on-site activities and a debit card for any additional expenses we would incur.
Make-A-Wish and our wish granting team truly made our family's dream come true. It was such a smooth, easy process. We can't thank them enough for providing us an opportunity to get away for a while; like a good book, we easily escaped into the fantasy of it all.
If you have a chance to support the Make-A-Wish foundation, please consider doing so. Our family will be forever grateful for the experience and memories made possible by generous donations from supporter like you.
Make-A-Wish will always be one of the bright spots in Atia's cancer journey. A super duper, special thank you to Nicole, Katie and Dina for being incredibly loving, compassionate, and overall wonderful. It wouldn't have been the same without you lovely ladies on the case.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for making my little girl's dream come true!
Next week, I'll tell you all about our trip... stay tuned!
My Next Blog > "Our Atlantis Wish Trip: Part 1"