Jess has spent the first years of his life in and out of the hospital, apart from his twin brother and five other siblings.
When he was told that his heart condition would qualify him for a wish, he wished to spend a week with his family at Walt Disney World – “to make up for lost time.”
Jess was born with two holes in his heart, down syndrome, and lots of complications that required regular hospital stays.
At his worst, he spent 10 days on life support and 18 weeks in the hospital. At his best, he was home for nine whole weeks before he was back in the hospital for an emergency surgery.
“It felt like we were just constantly going – one thing to another. We couldn’t catch a break,” said Jess’ mom, Kimberly.
It was during this dark time when Jess’ family learned he was eligible for a wish.
Kimberly knew that her son, one of Disney’s biggest fans, would have only one wish – to see the magic of Walt Disney World in person.
“While Jess was on life support, I held his hand and promised him that I would take him to Walt Disney World,” said Kimberly. “As he recovered, Make-A-Wish was able to share with him that they could help make that promise come true.”
More than anything, Jess wanted to spend time with his family.
For the past five years, Jess’ condition restricted any kind of travel and really limited their vacation options.
His wish trip to Walt Disney World was their first trip as a family. It was the first time any of the children had flown on an airplane and their excitement could barely be contained.
“Jess’ twin brother, Jax, loves airplanes and was so excited when he and Jess were able to go into the cockpit and meet the pilots together,” said Kimberly. “It was a magical week from the very start.”
While at Disney World, Jess met two of his favorite characters, Mickey Mouse and Pluto. Jess spent a lot of time with Pluto who, like Jess, is non-verbal.
“At the meeting with Pluto, Jess’ face showed pure joy,” said Kimberly. “We could tell he really felt special — that he knew this was his wish, that it was just for him.”
“The best part of the trip was not worrying about therapy, school, or any of that. We were able to get away from the day-to-day craziness and just be able to enjoy being a family.”
Today, Jess does at-home pre-schooling. He has occupational, physical and speech therapy several times a week. Even though he still has a long road ahead of him, Jess and his family gained a positive outlook from his wish.
“Being able to look back and talk about all these memories brings us so much happiness. We bought Mickey and Minnie Mouse ice cream bowls for the kids. We kept them, and every time the kids eat out of them we all remember the love we felt that week.”