Chronically ill child receives all expenses paid tripPublished 11:29am Thursday, February 21, 2013
Plenty of families take trips to Walt Disney World, but for one 15-year-old, her parents and her two younger sisters, the upcoming trip is all expenses paid.
Kristin Lovelace and her family first heard about Magic Moments, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes of chronically ill children in Alabama, from a friend at church. After the friend turned their name in, they received an application packet. But after sending it in May of 2011, they didn’t hear anything else about it.
“We had just kind of forgotten about it,” said Kristin’s mom Tanya Lovelace. “On July 14, 2012, my husband went to the mailbox and (there was) this letter she had gotten in the mail.”
Kristin’s wish to go to Disney World had been granted.
The “once in a lifetime opportunity” comes as a result of the medical challenges Kristin has faced, which Tanya said were totally unexpected before she was born.
“The ultrasounds and everything showed a perfectly healthy baby,” Tanya said.
But a heart murmur made it necessary to keep Kristin on oxygen, and less than two days later, the murmur changed, and even on oxygen she was turning blue.
Kristin was transported to Birmingham, where a battery of tests finally revealed that her aortic arch was missing.
At eight days old, Kristin had her first open heart surgery.
When the Lovelaces finally got to take their little girl home to Camp Hill the stay was short-lived. A couple of weeks later, a staph infection sent Kristin back to the hospital for an extended stay, which eventually led to another open heart surgery to fix the hole in her heart.
Just before being discharged from the hospital, Kristin had a stroke. Tanya said by the time she and her husband reached the hospital, “she was gone.”
“They were doing chest compressions and putting the breathing tube back down,” Tanya said.
But the family was home by Mother’s Day.
“The stroke has left her a little physically and mentally impaired,” Tanya said.
“That’s how we got the wish trip.”
The Lovelaces will stay at the 70-acre Give Kids the World resort during their weeklong visit to Disney. The nonprofit resort caters to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.
Kristin said she wants to meet Mickey Mouse.
“He’s my favorite character,” Kristin said. “I watch him on TV … He’s got a funny tail.”
Everyone knows what they want out of the trip. Youngest sister Samantha, 3, wants to meet Cinderella. Sister Natalie, 8, wants to ride Space Mountain. But for Tanya and husband Tony, it’s impossible to express how this trip fulfills their desire.
“We have been through so much during the past 15 years,” Tanya said. “To our family, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We all need this time to just have fun and enjoy life and not have to worry about bills, money, doctors or what lies ahead for Kristin.”
Kristin had her third heart surgery when she was 8 years old to enlarge her aortic arch. In addition to developing scoliosis and some sort of bleeding/clotting disorder, Kristin will face at least one more heart surgery in her life.
But for one week, Kristin will be one more child at Disney World.