A four-year-old’s special wish comes true

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 3, 2005

About four months ago, Lorrie Bennett was looking over her online support group for parents of children with heart trouble.

Someone sent an e-mail, telling her that the Make-A-Wish foundation had just helped their family take a trip to Disney World. Lorrie was surprised.

&uot;I always thought Make-A-Wish was for parents of children with terminal illnesses,&uot; she said. &uot;It turned out that it was parents of children with life-threatening illnesses as well.&uot;

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She went to the Make-A-Wish Web site, and started sharing the story of her 4-year-old daughter, Ashlynn.

When the little girl was born, the left side of the heart didn’t function. She’d undergone four heart surgeries, the first when she was just two weeks old (there’s a huge scar on her chest that Ashlynn proudly calls &uot;my zipper!&uot;)

Ashlynn might need a heart transplant within few years, possibly even before she graduates high school.

Ashlynn didn’t really know what Disney World was. But Lorrie’s seen her daughter watch &uot;Cinderella&uot; and heard her discuss Mickey Mouse with her older brothers, Josh and Colby, and her dad, Ray.

&uot;I figured I had nothing to lose,&uot; Lorrie said. &uot;There’s not much else a 4-year-old would want.&uot;

A few weeks later, Lorrie got an e-mail back, asking for specific information about Ashlynn. Lorrie sent the names of her daughter’s doctors to verify the nature of the illness.

In early July, two Make-A-Wish representatives, monikered Wish Granters, came to the Bennett’s Northbrooke Road home. One of them talked to the children about why they wanted to go to the Land of Disney.

&uot;It was kind of exciting,&uot; Colby said. &uot;I was telling him stuff about my sister. He told us that if the trip to the World didn’t work, we could go on a cruise.&uot;

After a month, the family hadn’t heard anything, and Lorrie called one of the Granters. He said he’d check into it. A few days later, a letter arrived at the Bennett home.

&uot;It told us we were on our way,&uot; Colby said. &uot;I was kind of surprised. It was kind of awkward, because we didn’t have to pay.&uot;

That was the best part; the foundation would fly them to the Orange State and put them in a special hotel called Give Kids the World, used by Make-A-Wish and similar foundations from across America. There’s a gingerbread house, two pools, a movie theater, and an ice cream shop. At Disney World for the first time for all of them, the Bennetts plan to hit all the theme parks.

&uot;I want to see the stunt shows and go to Sea World,&uot; Colby said. &uot;I want to feed the dolphins, but I’ll probably get a little freaked out by the sharks.&uot;

And Ashlynn? Her plans are simple.

&uot;I want to see Mickey Mouse and hug him,&uot; she said. &uot;I love his big ears!&uot;