Jose Meets Lebron James
Jose knows exactly what to wish for—he’s only 8, but his mind is made up. He passes up other possibilities to meet his favorite basketball star—Lebron James of Miami Heat! With help from some wonderful staff at RDV Sports-plex and our own volunteers Michele and Steve Chamberland, his wish came true. Jose stood in awe as Lebron approached. In a soft voice of admiration Jose exclaimed, “My Lebron James!” He could barely believe his eyes.
In keeping with this wave of joy, the UCF Cornerstone Team aptly named “King Jose’s Court” raised enough funds to provide box seats for another Magic Game. They also planned a party and co-hosted it with O’Charley’s who generously donated $260 delicious dinners. Other donors included Ernst and Young, Kohl’s and other kind members of our community. It offered Jose an opportunity to forget about his illnesses and just enjoy being a kid having fun.
Chandler and His Amazing Bike
Chandler is having a great time on his amazing bike. At 14 kids want to become more independent. Because of cerebral palsy and seizures, that is a difficult thing for Chandler to do. So, his dream was to have a full sized quad bike to replace the small bike he had outgrown. His mother Michelle shared, “Sometimes, for Chandler to enjoy the same activities that everyone else does, it takes an expensive piece of equipment. Insurance and Medicaid often don't pay for these items as they are deemed ‘not medically necessary.’" This is where New Hope’s Wishes for Kids program stepped in to say, “Chandler, a special needs bike is “wish-worthy” and we can fulfill your dream.
To make Chandler’s wish even more exciting, the UCF Dream Team “adopted” him and raised nearly $3,000 cash to pay for the bike. David’s World Cycle’s expert Edgardo Negron built the bike with a special supportive seat, handlebars and controls, so the entire family can ride together. It’s two tandem bikes made into a quad bike. When the Dream Team held a fun party for Chandler, they also gave him a bike horn and attire fit for a biker! To learn more about Chandler, go to www.Chandlercentral.org.
Team Wishing Well Does Well
Rafael is 17 and has Down syndrome. He’s full of enthusiasm and didn’t hesitate to share that he really wanted an above-ground pool more than anything in the world. He loves to be outside and a pool is the perfect place to be on a hot summer’s day. Recreational Factory Warehouse Altamonte Springs donated a variety of pool toys. The Orlando Science Center added to the fun by giving Rafael and his family a membership worth $250. UCF Team Wishing Well held a pool party for Rafael and his friends. You can share his joy as you view this youtube link. It includes Team Wishing Well’s plans and party for Rafael.
Zion’s Trip to the Village
At 5, Zion is the perfect age to go to Give Kids the World Village. He’s holding Mickey Mouse in the picture to the left. Though spina bifida has caused its limitations, there is no limit on the fun he had at the village and Disney World! Activities were non-stop, and after a day at the theme parks, the pool and specially adapted water park at the village cooled everyone off.
Team Hopetastic added to Zion’s anticipation by giving him a unique brunch with a Scavenger Hunt. The young guests found clues that led them to special prizes. When Zion found his, it was a basket full of gifts including 8 tickets to see SpongeBob Square pants’ show at Nickelodeon Orlando.
Ashlen's wish was to be professionally recorded and make a CD of her own renditions of her favorite music.
Click here for her story and to listen to the tracks on her CD, Memories in the Glass.
Nearly ten years old, Tanner is very quiet and cautious. He has learned to make lifelong adjustments while living with diabetes. Because a child’s activity affects his sugar levels, juvenile diabetes can be dangerous and difficult to control. Despite these challenges, Tanner finds many ways to have fun. His favorite activity is camping. He longed to have a pop-top camper to share with his sister Savannah, who suffers from a chromosomal abnormality. Tanner knows this is a big wish, but New Hope for Kids and Teams Knight Club and L.O.V.E. made it happen. Wish celebrations—a picnic and birthday party were planned and provided entirely by the teams. Local businesses donated refreshments. Tanner and his family were overwhelmed by the table covered with trays of food, a Godzilla cake, decorations, and to top it off—ice cream! They even planned activities and games. It was an unforgettable Wish!
Picture a pretty young lady with an enchanting smile emerging from a white stretch limousine provided by West Wing Limousine Services. That would be 12-year-old Jessica ready for her trip to shop, shop, shop! Jessica’s mom, Donna and sisters Danielle and Michelle cheer her on as she carefully chooses treasures such as CD’s, DVD’s, a CD player, new clothes and much more. Jessica has come prepared with a list including sales items. Later, she’ll relax at her favorite restaurant--Golden Corral.
At 7 years old, Kacie is confined to a wheelchair unable to run and play like other girls her age. She has cerebral palsy and every day is a challenge. One of Kacie’s favorite things to do is to watch Disney movies. She likes to pretend she is a princess like Cinderella and Snow White; and she is a little princess. New Hope for Kids granted Kacie’s wish to go on a Disney family cruise this summer. It was a big wish that could not be fulfilled without the help of our community. A UCF Cornerstone Knights for Hope team raised nearly $3,000 to help make Kacie’s wish come true. One of the best parts was celebrating Kacie’s wish with her family and friends in her school classroom.
At 13, Robert would love to play sports like other youngsters his age, but due to spina bifida, his mobility is limited. New Hope for Kids wants to give Robert something special to look forward to—a trip to Peru with his mother and sister to see his grandparents and homeland. It has been years since he saw his family there, and Robert’s eyes lit up with anticipation when he asked if that could be his wish. The Dreamers and Achievers Team helped to grant Robert’s wish by raising nearly $3,000! The spirit of the team has been an inspiration. Robert was also honored with an invitation to attend one of UCF’s games with them. They went “beyond the call of duty” to make sure he has a celebration that he will never forget. This is in keeping with New Hope for Kid’s goal to make every wish a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Ben Rides the Polar Express
Ben is only 4 ½ years old and he’s had a rough time due to M-CMTC, initials for a medical condition that causes blockages in the brain, seizures and asthma. Ben loves cars, planes and trucks, but especially trains. Since he read Chris Van Allsburg’s The Polar Express he has longed to be a part of its great adventure. This heartwarming story is about the power of belief! It resonates across generations and has touched the hearts of many children and adults. Ben’s faith that dreams can come true was rewarded by a trip to ride on the real Polar Express–a journey he won’t soon forget! New Hope for Kids granted Ben’s wish in December. In addition to riding the Polar Express train through the Smoky Mountains with family and friends, they enjoyed the Aquarium in Gatlinburg, Dollywood, and the train museum.
Ben’s mom Ann shared, “The Polar Express was magical! We were treated like royalty. They sang the hot chocolate song while serving it and Ben danced in the aisle. Ben loved singing and dancing to songs from the movie and meeting Santa. His favorite part was when the engineer let him blow the train’s whistle! Ben said, ‘Can YOU believe it? It’s the Polar Express!’ His face was pure happiness. Sometimes we wonder, ‘why us?’ Others reach out to us and we begin to learn the lesson. Special people like Ben teach us so much about human kindness.”
New Hope for Kids had help granting Ben’s wish from UCF’s Cornerstone Strictly Business Team. Comprised of 7 business majors, they raised $2000 for Ben’s wish. Ben charmed his way into their hearts as he showed them his collection of trains, planes and trucks and was obviously delighted with the team’s attention. Strictly Business didn’t waste any time in planning a Publix fundraiser, Hip Hop Showcase, and a golf tournament. Greenway Ford also participated and donated a Mustang for a hole-in-one prize. These events provided learning experiences applicable to their future business career. They also planned a memorable party at Ben’s school. In addition to raising funds for Ben’s wish, Strictly Business was also able to obtain free tickets for the Polar Express ride and discounted accommodations. They’ve made a difference in Ben and his family’s lives and New Hope for Kids.
At 17, Elyse is learning to become more independent, but there are many challenges for her. She has Down syndrome, an extra 21st chromosome that causes learning and growth problems as well as increased health risks and shortened life expectancy. Elyse shines in spite of these challenges. She is social and vibrant. Her wish was to go to New York City, see Broadway shows,shop and taste the Big Apple! UCF’s Cornerstone Team, Angels In the Outfield, did an outstanding job to raise $2,600 plus $1,800 in-kind donation of Hotel W discount on accommodations for Elyse’s wish. They also hosted a wish celebration for Elyse at Amigo’s, her favorite restaurant. As you can see from the picture above, Elyse’s appreciation is written across her face in a big smile!
Chelsey's wish celebration was held at the "Top of Daytona" restaurant in Daytona Beach. Loved ones gathered to say "Bon Voyage" to the bright-eyed cutie and her family that embarked on a 7-day Disney Cruise. She had an amazing trip spending time with Minnie Mouse and her pals. Every day is a challenge for seven-year-old Chelsey. She endures daily treatments to help control cystic fibrosis, an inherited disease that causes thick, sticky mucus to build up in the lungs and digestive tract. It is the most common type of chronic lung disease in children and young adults, and may result in early death. Chelsey takes it all in stride, and is a happy, well-adjusted youngster who just wants to have fun. New Hope for Kids is especially grateful to those who helped make Chelsey's wish come true: Marianna Vanderhoof, the "Top of Daytona" for providing beverages and hors'd'ouvres, the Otte family, and The Wreck Restaurant staff and customers. Collectively, they provided $2,000 to go toward Chelsey's party, cruise and spending money.
Elijah is only 2 years old and has already fought the hardest battle of his life-he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a solid tumor cancer that begins in the nerve tissue. He has had 4 rounds of chemotherapy and is currently doing very well. His mother Ashley shared, "His wish is being granted just one day shy of his 2 year mark of being diagnosed. It's amazing to think, 2 years ago I was told he wasn't going to survive the night, and here he is getting a wish granted. It just blows my mind!" Elijah is full of bounce and fun. He would like a friend to share his energy-a boxer puppy! New Hope for Kids thanks Pet Smart and Banfield Hospital for donating a year's supply of dogfood, obediance training and a Healthcare Plan. Thanks to these donors and today's sponsors for helping make Elijah's wish come true!
Laurita is 17 years old and suffers from spina bifida and shunted hydrocephalus. Spina bifida is an opening in the spinal column at birth. Although surgery closes the opening, there are many health complications. She uses braces or a wheelchair at school when she is required to walk for long periods. Last summer she had surgery on her foot to help her gain greater mobility. When Laurita applied for a wish last year, she was struggling with the challenge of finding her niche. She is a vivacious, enthusiastic teenager interested in acting, theater and television productions. As part of her wish, the Orlando Youth Theater donated the Summer Stock camp and Laurita played a role in "Kiss Me Kate." Laurita plays the violin, enjoys acting, public speaking and is an active supporter of the Spina Bifida Association. She has already surmounted many obstacles and will surely succeed in future endeavors. She once told me, "I do not like to call myself disable. Instead, I simply think of myself as challenged. New Hope for Kids granted Laurita's wish to meet Bill Hemmer, then news anchor for CNN's morning show. He and his staff made Laurita feel like a star!
Severe asthma frequently sends Amanda to the hospital. At other times, 15-year-old Amanda is a ball of energy and enthusiasm. She enjoys drama, travel and public speaking, and is a spokesman for the American Thoracic Society. Her wish reflects her wide range of interests. She would like to go to England, visit London's theater, Kensington Gardens, the Hampton maze and any sites related to Shakespeare or Harry Potter. The UCF Cornerstone RT^3 Team and the St. Charles Jr. Honor Society raised funds and hosted wish "Bon Voyage!" celebrations for Amanda. She and her mom described the trip as a "magical adventure!"