Cameras flash. A crowd gathers. Three-year-old Violet walks hand-in-hand with Mickey Mouse, and heads keep turning.
Mickey introduces her to other characters as they walk. They wave to the crowd; they smile. Mickey stops where music plays and holds her hands in his as they dance. He pulls her in for a hug. She kisses his nose.
This is one of many joyous moments from Violet’s wish, which came after many years of hardship for her and her family.
Just six months after Violet was born, Shenay knew something was wrong. A month later, Violet was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare form of cancer. “I was devastated beyond belief,” she said. “Our world was turned upside down.”
“Within days everything started—CT scans, MRIs, surgeries, chemotherapy, labs, exams under anesthesia, injections—it was the most difficult time my husband and I had ever faced,” said Shenay, who was told that Violet also has a genetic condition that puts her at a higher risk of other cancers developing throughout her life. “Violet's diagnosis is a lifelong, day-by-day risk and there is currently no cure.”
Doctor visits and hospital stays have left little time for fun in Violet’s life, but that changed when her wish was granted. Violet wished to meet Mickey Mouse and all his friends at Disneyland® to bring a little childhood joy back into her life.
When she found out her wish was coming true, Violet jumped for joy. “She was looking forward to it so much that the anticipation of it reigned over all else in the months leading up to it,” said Shenay. “Being so used to the anxiety of upcoming hospital days, we were all so excited to go on a trip where we could focus on watching Violet have fun and forget all of our worries.”
From Mickey Mouse to Cinderella to Chip and Dale, all the Disney characters made Violet feel like the most important person in the park. “Each character interaction had our family in happy tears because they took so much time with Violet,” said Shenay.
Violet’s days were filled with hugs, dancing, ring-around-the-rosie and walking hand-in-hand with all her favorite characters and princesses. She also had a special Cinderella make-over at Bippity Boppity Boutique. “Violet's sweet little face beamed with happiness when everyone she met at Disneyland that day referred to her as ‘Princess Violet.’”
Violet’s young life has been overshadowed by a series of life-changing moments—from the day she was diagnosed to the day she started her first chemotherapy treatment. But the moments at Disneyland are pivotal, too. These are the joyous moments of Violet’s heartfelt wish.
“Violet has endured so much, at a time when she is supposed to be enjoying her life carefree. Make-A-Wish was able to make incredible moments happen. Moments full of joy, love and wonderment,” said Shenay. “I will always remember the glow of her ear-to-ear smiles as her wish came true.”
These moments are treasured and enduring. Today, Violet and her family talk about their trip every day. “We are all so thankful for the kindness and generosity of everyone that made this experience possible. It is something that we will never forget,” she said. “I am so grateful that my little girl’s wish came true!”
Special Thanks: Wish-granting volunteers Ken Kieffer and Annie Arbenz, Disneyland, Alaska Airlines, Bayview Limousine and Rain Forest Café.