When Cataleya was just one-and-a-half years old, her family began to suspect something wasn’t right. She had some stomach pains and would sometimes throw up inexplicably. But when Cataleya developed a lump on her breast, her parents were determined to find answers.
Doctors diagnosed Cataleya with neurofibromatosis, a life-threatening genetic disorder that causes tumors. They found three tumors in her brain that were affecting her vision. This bubbly little girl was at risk of losing her vision.
The next year held chemotherapy and other treatments intended to preserve as much of Cataleya’s vision as possible. Through it all, Cataleya never lost her cheery disposition and positive attitude.
Cataleya escaped reality by watching her favorite Disney movies, so when Cataleya and her family found out that that she would get her wish, it was a no-brainer to go to Walt Disney World® Resort. For Cataleya, going to Disney World meant meeting all her favorite characters. For her parents, it meant giving her the best memories possible while she was still able to see.
“It terrifies us wondering if she will ever completely lose her vision, so we want to create as many memories as we can for her to hold on to,” said wish mom, Christa.
These memories started even before her trip began. The Beta Beta chapter of Chi Omega adopted Cataleya’s wish. The chapter hosted a huge kickoff event for Cataleya and her family, with people from all over town coming to show their support.
“It gives me so much hope; to see the community come together to do this for Cataleya was priceless,” said Christa. A wish is an experience that has the power to transform the life of a child, a family and a community forever.
Once at Disney World, Cataleya met the famous Mickey and Minnie Mouse. There, she talked and danced with Anna and Elsa, and even visited Olaf.
“She was so mesmerized by them,” Christa said. “It still brings tear to my eyes, she was so happy.”
Since coming back from her week-long adventure, Cataleya is as happy and bubbly as ever. She is learning to read Braille and use a walking cane, and her family thinks back to the trip very often.
“Our wish allowed us an opportunity to escape reality and enjoy all of the moments with Cataleya,” said Christa “I’ll always have those moments, and she’ll always be able to treasure those moments for herself.”
Special thanks to the Beta Beta Chapter of Chi Omega at Washington State University and wish-granting volunteers Paul and Janice Woolson.