This year, 3-year-old Eliza celebrated the holidays surrounded by her family and her favorite characters at Walt Disney World because that was her one true wish.
This was a huge milestone for Eliza and her family, who spent Christmas together in the hospital last year.
“Eliza was diagnosed with epilepsy and chiari malformation, a structural defect that can create some neurological issues, and hydrocephalus,” said her mom, Samantha. “She’s had 10 brain surgeries so far and in December 2017, she was hospitalized for a surgery right before Christmas.”
Shortly after returning home, Eliza faced more medical problems and was in and out of the hospital for the next few months.
“We would usually be in the hospital for two weeks each stay,” said Samantha. “We basically lived in the hospital from the end of December to the end of March.”
While driving home from a doctor appointment, Samantha received the phone call that Eliza could have a wish. She immediately broke down crying.
“I couldn’t even grasp that it was real,” said Samantha, who wasn’t one bit surprised when Eliza wished to go to Walt Disney World. “We took Eliza on a trip to Disneyland after her first round of surgeries and we immediately saw a change in her and an improvement in her health.”
Eliza and her family traveled to Florida during the holidays, where they stayed at Give Kids The World and visited Walt Disney World theme parks for her wish.
“Every kid at the village has had quite a journey, so just being there is like a community and there are no words to describe how meaningful it is,” Samantha continued.
Together, they attended a special Christmas party where Eliza was able to meet different characters at the party she had never seen before, including her new favorite character, the Beast.
Along with meeting Frozen’s Anna and Elsa plus numerous other characters, Eliza loved riding in the teacups and eating breakfast in Cinderella’s castle.
“The memories we made during that trip were an amazing experience because all the medical stuff falls away and she’s just a normal little girl on vacation,” said Samantha, who can still see the happiness in Eliza.
“She comes home, and she wants to look at the pictures. It’s amazing watching her remember these things.”
Since her wish, Eliza has made progress emotionally as well as in her speech and physical therapy.
“She blossomed into a new child,” said Samantha. “For her, it truly is something magical. She loves the characters and being there lets her have the chance to be a typical child.”