Dominic has the kind of smile that can light up an entire room. But, at just 6 years old, he's faced some pretty incredible challenges in his life.
He was born premature, causing many medical complications, including cerebral palsy which later developed into life-threatening epilepsy.
And while Dominic’s challenges are unique in his family, he has the support of his healthy twin brother, who is always by his side. He is very limited with his movement and communication but his very loving family has been there for every step of his medical journey.
It was in August 2016, when Dominic was going through a particularly rough time, that his neurologist asked if they ever considered reaching out to Make-A-Wish Arizona.
“I was so wrapped up focusing on how I could help Dominic day-by-day that I didn’t even think about whether he would qualify for a wish,” said Sherry, Dominic’s mother. “We never even thought about the fact that Dominic could be a wish kid.”
After Dominic was medically-approved for a wish, he and his family were visited by his two volunteer wish granters, Lauren and Shannon. Together, they all brainstormed to find the perfect wish to bring light to Dominic’s life.
"Movement is Dominic’s biggest challenge in life,” said Sherry. “With his condition, his four limbs do not work like he would like them to. But in the water, while using a special floatation neck ring, he doesn’t have to fight his own body. This is the reason Dominic loves being in the water.”
The Florida beaches, with the warm waters and calm surf, were a perfect beach wish for Dominic. He could be surrounded by water and have his siblings nearby for fun in the sand and surf.
“When I got the call that this wish trip was actually happening I had to pull my car over in shock,” said Sherry. “My immediate reaction was to start thinking about all the sad things. Why Dominic qualified for this wish and everything he had been through."
"But then I started to think about all the positive things in our life and why Dominic deserved this wish. It made me realize that you don’t have to view this opportunity in the light that there’s a sick child – there’s a child and that’s all that matters.”
Sherry was excited to be the one to share the news with Dominic. “His face lit up. I don’t know how we could ever replicate the happiness I saw on his face in that moment.”
The family spent a week together at a house in Florida that was near the ocean, but also had a pool in case there were days of choppy surf.
Dominic and his family enjoyed visiting the aquarium, meeting the dolphin from the movie Dolphin Tale, going on the water rides at Busch Gardens, and doing endless amounts of swimming.
“We were in the water from morning to night,” said Sherry. “My husband and I were able to relax and watch our children be regular kids and enjoy the pool together.”
While Dominic’s communication skills are slowly evolving and he can say one word here and there, it is still an everyday challenge for him. But on the last day of the trip when his mother told him it was time to go, he replied to her saying, “I don’t wanna.”
“This spoke volumes to me about how much this wish really meant to Dominic because he has a difficult time speaking full sentences,” said Sherry. “When he said this to me, I knew this trip had made an impact that will help him long after the wish was over.”
The sound of the laughter and the giggling while the children played in the water together was a sound Sherry and her husband hoped they would never forget - until they realized they didn't have to.
“This wish impacted our family and our lives so greatly that when we got home from the wish, we decided we needed a pool," said Sherry. "We searched for a new house that had a pool, and we moved."
"This wish showed us that playing in the water can become my children’s common thread – something that helps Dominic feel like a regular kid.”