Five months after birth, Mallorie was diagnosed with Goldenhar Syndrome, a rare, life-threatening congenital condition she will battle for the rest of her life. Before her first birthday, Mallorie had already begun speech therapy, physical therapy, sign language instruction and food therapy.
Today, six-year-old Mallorie has a history of medical and dental surgeries, including a tracheotomy. But Mallorie’s health is not the only reason she has grown up quicker than most. Mallorie’s dad, Matthew, is in the military.
Mallorie’s wish came at a critical time. Matthew was about to be deployed to Afghanistan, but Mallorie wanted her dad to be part of her wish experience. After seeing the “princess castle” at Walt Disney World® Resort on TV, Mallorie wished to meet the Disney princesses and give her family an opportunity to be together before her dad’s deployment.
“Having him come [on this family vacation] before a long deployment to Afghanistan was amazing. It allowed her to be able to share something so special with her father,” said her mother, Maelisa. “She is proud of her father and what he does, so to be able to share that special time with him was a wonderful way to start saying our goodbyes.”
At Walt Disney World® Resort, Mallorie donned her princess gown and met all of her favorite princesses—sharing special moments of hugs, twirls and smiles with her family.
Mallorie’s younger brother, Maverick, also enjoyed the special treatment, including a meeting with Spiderman at Universal Studios. “Make-A-Wish has a way of making that child and family feel like they are super stars,” said Maelisa.
With your support, Make-A-Wish® Alaska and Washington was able to give Mallorie and her family an unforgettable experience filled with many happy memories to help carry them through the tough times ahead. “I was able to see my Mallorie’s face light up, and she felt so special,” she said. “It was just a feeling, as a mother, I could never explain.”
According to Maelisa, the trip was not something they would have been able to do without Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington. “So, Make-A-Wish allowed us to enjoy something special with our daughter and take away the fears of our soldier leaving in less than a month,” she said. Mallorie’s dad left for Afghanistan just two weeks after they returned from her wish trip.
Nearly two years later, today, Mallorie is in the first grade and is fluent in American Sign Language. “She is keeping up with the others and is doing amazing,” said Maelisa.
“If I was able to talk to another mom about the Make-A-Wish program, I think they would understand how stressful life can be with a child with a lot of needs,” she said. “I would tell them all the great things I experienced with my daughter. About how there aren't stresses of normal life. It is a chance to be able to let all those things go and have fun.”
Maelisa plans to be a wish-granting volunteer to share this message with other families. “I would love to volunteer for Make-A-Wish because I love the idea of being able to help another family feel as special as the volunteers did who helped us,” she said. “We will always remember how this changed our lives.”
Make-A-Wish needs volunteers in South Sound, Tri Cities, Spokane and throughout Alaska. We especially need bilingual (English and Spanish) volunteers in Eastern and Central Washington. Please contact Whyv@nxjn.jvfu.bet to learn more.
Special Thanks: Wish-granting volunteers Gayle Tucker and Lisa Kerr, Avis, Walt Disney World® Resort, Alaska Airlines, Give Kids the World and Bayview Limousine.