But when they found out their five-year-old daughter, Teagan, who is battling a life-threatening heart condition, was eligible for a wish, they experienced it from a completely different perspective.
“Trent and I always had the itinerary of the kids we were sending off on their wishes, but we never truly understood the number of people who are involved from beginning to end, and how much love these kids get from them all,” said Susie.
This year, Teagan is scheduled for her third open-heart surgery, but her family is confident that Teagan’s wish will give her hope and strength to carry her through the tough times ahead.
Teagan’s favorite bedtime story, J.M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy, inspired her wish to travel to the Florida theme parks where she could meet and fly with her favorite characters.
Starting with their plane ride where Teagan and her brothers were treated to a tour of the cockpit, given Captain’s wings and recognized on the overhead speaker, to a whirlwind seven-day trip to five theme parks, to their amazing stay in a villa at Give Kids the World, Susie and Trent witnessed thousands of people participating in Teagan’s wish.
“The attention to every single detail blew our minds,” Susie said. “We never wanted for anything, and it was an amazing, stress-free experience for the entire family following some difficult months and with more health challenges ahead.”
“The most awesome moment was when Teagan first saw the Princess’s Castle,” said Susie. “She raised her fists in the air and screamed ‘We did it! There it is!’”
All of the parks gave Teagan and her family VIP treatment and ensured the family was taken to the front of the lines.
“Not only that, we were treated to private meet-and-greet sessions with the most popular characters, visited every day at our villa by a ‘gift fairy,’ and all of this was not only for Teagan, but her brothers were included, too,” she said.
Residing at Give Kids the World with 50 other wish families was also an amazing experience. “Having other families there with kids on oxygen, with exposed tubes and other visible health issues made us “normal” for the first time in a long time. No one stared; it was an even playing field.”
Following their return, the family is still bubbling over the experience. And Trent and Susie are more excited than ever to continue their wish volunteer activities with the new insight they have gained.
“Now that we know about all the love future wish kids will get from so many people, it’s even more exciting to be a part of it going forward,” said Susie.
You can help make wishes come true for children like Teagan by making a donation online.
Special thanks: wish-granting volunteers Terri White and George Frankenfield, Walt Disney World® Resort, Give Kids the World, Avis, Feld Entertainment, Chuck E. Cheese, Elegant Wine Country Limousine, Get Air Tri-Cities, Jackson Hatfield, Red Door, Rachel Ross, Andrea Starr Photography and Loren Watts.