Brynlee’s wish to go to Walt Disney World® Resort gave her family a chance to create life-changing memories and reconnect with the memory of Brynlee’s brother, who experienced the same wish before he passed away.
Doctors diagnosed Brynlee, now 5, with a mitochondrial disease when she was about a year old. The diagnosis was crushing for her family, who had recently lost Brynlee’s older brother, Breylon, to the same condition.
“‘Take nothing for granted’ has become our family's motto,” Brynlee’s mom, Ashlee, said. “We want Brynlee to experience as much as she can while she is still physically able to. We quickly learned that sadness and anger over her diagnosis wasn’t going to do anything for her. We needed to just learn how to best live in the moment and be grateful for each day.”
As Brynlee wasn’t born yet when Breylon experienced his wish, Brynlee’s memories of Breylon are based on stories from her parents. While staying at Give Kids The World Village, Brynlee and her family visited the Castle of Miracles where kids are able to put their names on a gold star that is then placed on the ceiling or walls. In 2011, Brynlee’s family visited Give Kids The World Village for Breylon’s wish experience and put up his star. Brynlee’s wish trip allowed her to find Breylon’s star in the castle.
“[Give Kids The World Village is] such a special place for us as it holds so many memories from Brynlee's brother’s wish trip,” Ashlee said. “We loved seeing her endless smiles and sense of closeness to Breylon.”
In addition to wanting to see her brother’s star, Brynlee wished to meet Jessie from Toy Story at Walt Disney World® Resort, and it’s no wonder why. Jessie is a cowgirl whose sense of adventure knows no bounds. She’s as funny as she is feisty, and she also happens to be Brynlee’s favorite.
“Brynlee's face when Jessie walked in was priceless,” Brynlee’s mom, Ashlee, said. “She was so starstruck. Brynlee was so excited.”
Sitting down to a game of checkers and dancing with Jessie was a moment that Brynlee and her family will cherish forever.
“Brynlee had a chance to experience things that she will likely never have another chance to do as her vision continues to deteriorate,” Ashlee said. “For me, I was humbled and so blessed that she and our family had this opportunity.”
Because Brynlee’s condition means her sight is rapidly declining, the timing of her wish was vital.
“The memories made will last long after Brynlee's vision is gone,” Ashlee said. “I truly believe that the memories from this trip will be something we will all cling to on those dark days.”