Dressed in his suit and adorned with Mickey ears and a bow tie, five-year-old Leland of Anchorage walked from table to table, handing out plates of food to children in his community. Leland, who is battling leukemia, made a simple wish to go to Disneyland®. But this was not a typical wish.
Leland was used to so many people helping him throughout his treatment that he decided to pay it forward by sharing his wish with other kids.
So he celebrated his wish send-off party at Kids Kitchen in Anchorage, and served food to local children in-need before sitting down with his own plate. “It brought tears to our eyes and I had never been more proud than in that moment to call him my son,” said Jennifer, Leland’s mom. “It was and still is an absolutely amazing feeling.”
After his send-off celebration, Leland, his two siblings and parents boarded a plane to Disneyland®. Leland enjoyed all the rollercoasters and his special dinner with Goofy. He also enjoyed the waterslides, big pools and simply spending time in the sun with his family.
“To see Leland and the other kids be so happy, so carefree, and for us to finally be a normal, happy and healthy family is the best gift anyone in this world could have given us, and we will cherish that moment forever,” said Jennifer. Leland also had the opportunity to meet some of his family members that live near Disneyland®, including his older brother, which was a special moment for him and his family.
“As parents, to see your child hurt and go through so much pain and knowing that there is nothing that you can do to take that away from them is the hardest and most devastating thing a parent will ever have to go through,” she said. “So, being able to go on Leland’s wish and getting to see him smile and laugh with his brother and sister is the most amazing gift in the world that anyone could have given us.”