Foundation fulfills dream for Suffolk kidPublished 8:22pm Saturday, May 18, 2013
A special Suffolk family will have an all-expenses-paid week of fun in Florida thanks to the Toby’s Dream Foundation and a donation from the We Promise Foundation.
Anderson “A.J.” Pursel, 11, and his parents Michelle and Doug Pursel will stay at the Give Kids The World Village in central Florida and have tickets to Walt Disney World, Sea World and Universal Studios.
“I like it there,” said Anderson, an Elephant’s Fork Elementary School student who has been to Disney World before but not to the other parks. “It’s fun.”
Anderson was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease last February after about a year of symptoms. Crohn’s is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract that causes a number of uncomfortable symptoms.
“We went at least a year not knowing what was the matter with him,” Doug Pursel said. “We went to different specialists.”
Now that Anderson has received a diagnosis, he is on the way to getting the condition under control with medications and treatments.
“He’s doing much better,” Michelle Pursel said. “He’s been learning how to cope with it.”
Toby’s Dream Foundation is a local organization that fulfills dreams only for kids with terminal or life-threatening illnesses. A nurse at the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth told the Pursels about it.
Anderson, who said his favorite Disney character is Mickey Mouse, will get to spend the week with his parents, his younger sister and possibly his older sister — if she can get off work — at the Give Kids The World Village, which is located near Orlando’s many parks and attractions.
The village, which opened in 1989, partners with wish-granting organizations like Toby’s Dream Foundation and has welcomed more than 120,000 families to the 70-acre resort.
The family hopes to make the trip sometime in August, giving Michelle Pursel time to get leave from the Navy.
The Toby’s Dream Foundation has served 11 children who live in Suffolk, according to executive director Joan Steele. For more information, visit www.tobysdream.org.