Hayden, 3, looked up at her hero wearing her classic red and white polka dot dress in awe. Meeting Minnie Mouse and watching Mickey Mouse do the hot dog dance is why Hayden describes her wish trip to Walt Disney World® Resort as the best week of her life.
“Her amazement at being somewhere where all her favorite things were, and the magic of the parks are something we will never forget,” Hayden’s mom, Melissa, said.
To her mom, Hayden’s delight at Walt Disney World® Resort seemed so far removed from her initial diagnosis of a congenital heart disease following Melissa’s 20-week anatomy scan during her pregnancy.
“I can honestly say the news was devastating,” Melissa said. “I felt like I failed as a mother because this happened to her, but we chose to look at the positives throughout her diagnosis and the rest of my pregnancy.”
Hayden’s first open heart surgery took place when she was just four days old. At three weeks of age, doctors sent Hayden home for the first time with a binder full of medical information, medications and strict instructions on how to pick her up without jostling her healing ribs.
When a fellow mom in a heart mom support group recommended Make-A-Wish® Michigan, Melissa looked up the qualifications and referred Hayden to the organization. Little did she know in that moment the life-changing impact that Hayden’s wish would later have on the family.
“The trip is not what people think it’s going to be,” Melissa explained. “The people you meet who understand what you are going through, the extra perks your family is given (like the genie pass), and the kindness of everyone to my daughter was amazing. No one asked why she was wearing medical alerts, no one stared at her scars when she was in her swimsuit at Give Kids The World, and everyone made her day special. Seeing your child that happy and living their dream after seeing them go through the things they have gone through in their short life is very emotional and heartwarming.”