Looking Back on My Make-a-Wish

In third grade, I was granted the most amazing wish -- to go to Disney World! Through Make-a-Wish, I was able to have the time of my life with my family and put aside the everyday stresses that having cystic fibrosis brings. All these years later, my family still cherishes this time.

| 5 min read
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Ana Alford
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Childhood is the time when you are supposed to have fun without worry, but terminal illnesses such as cystic fibrosis can rob any parent and child of that special opportunity.

As a child with cystic fibrosis, I was always aware of certain things that other children had no need to acknowledge. Constantly washing my hands, keeping a distance from children coughing or sneezing, taking enzymes before eating, needing sleepovers to be planned in advance so I could do my nightly treatment -- sometimes the fun of childhood was taken away.

Like many parents of children with CF probably are, my parents have always tended to be “helicopter parents.” In fact, they were so protective that my mother was a substitute teacher at my elementary school while my dad worked (and still does) every day, all day, to ensure that I would have a positive future.

I was in the third grade when my parents learned about the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Make-A-Wish is a nonprofit organization that grants wishes to terminally ill children. As all children probably dream of, my wish was to vacation in the happiest place in the world: Disney World! I remember the process began with two Make-A-Wish employees coming to my home to ask me where I would want to go if I could go anywhere and what I would want to do. They were the kindest people who made me feel so special. They wanted to get to know me and find out how they could bring me happiness.

Although I was unaware of it at the time, apparently there was another local school raising money for my wish trip while I went about my daily life. My parents checked me out of school one day, which I knew was out of the ordinary since my dad always worked and I wasn't scheduled for a doctor's appointment. We pulled up to the other school as my confusion grew, and entered the cafeteria. As I walked in, I saw all the students and teachers filled with excitement as they brought me to the stage. I felt like a complete rock star as they granted my wish and supplied me with goodies they thought would come in handy on my trip.

Not only was I excited, but I could also see the happiness in my parents' eyes. My parents work so hard every day to ensure that my life is of the best quality, so seeing other people care enough about me to raise money for my wish trip was an experience they will always be thankful for.

Then, it was the day we left for Orlando. I remember the excitement running through me as we approached the airport. I knew this would be a special trip and I wanted to remember every second of it. I had my autograph book for all the characters to sign in my hand ready to go. (I first had my parents write in my book, along with the two Make-A-Wish employees.)

As soon as our plane landed, I was treated like a complete princess. Our room was at the top floor of the hotel. We had such a beautiful view and were even given warm cookies and milk every night. I was in absolute heaven. From face painting on the boardwalk to fireworks every night, my parents and I had a carefree vacation filled with so many memories we all cherish. We attended all the parks, with the added perk of skipping the lines and enjoying the rides as many times as I wanted. I was finally able to spend quality time with my mom and dad without them stressing over work or my health. We all were able to relax and enjoy the magic of Disney World together as a family.

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Make-A-Wish will always hold a special place in my heart for giving me and my family the trip of my dreams. Though cystic fibrosis is often scary and the future is unknown, my wish trip made me feel like the most loved person, surrounded by people who cared for me.

Walt Disney said, “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.” Make-A-Wish definitely made me feel special and brought me an exciting week with no worries and all the fun every child should experience. I will always be thankful for my experience and hope that other children with cystic fibrosis are able to have an experience like mine.

This site contains general information about cystic fibrosis, as well as personal insight from the CF community. Opinions and experiences shared by members of our community, including but not limited to people with CF and their families, belong solely to the blog post author and do not represent those of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, unless explicitly stated. In addition, the site is not intended as a substitute for treatment advice from a medical professional. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your treatment.

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Ana is a second-year student at the Mississippi College School of Law. Ana's passion is  family law since she loves to help others through difficult times. In her free time, she enjoys wakeboarding and spending time with her puppy, Conley. Ana tries to take advantage of her CF, which has helped her gain the organizational skills to balance medications and treatments and stay dedicated to ensuring a successful future.

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