People tend to treat Thatcher differently because of his multiple medical conditions. His wish was a time that his family noticed others giving him attention in a positive way.
“Thatcher sees some type of doctor every other week,” said his mom, Bethany. “He has Dandy-Walker syndrome, a congenital brain malformation that affects the back of the brain, and Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum that makes him not have the structure of the brain that connects the two sides. He’s also diagnosed with Stage 3 chronic kidney disease.”
Between Thatcher’s regular appointments and physical, occupational and speech therapies, Bethany decided to her refer her son for a wish.
“Thatcher is nonverbal, so he couldn’t exactly tell us what he wished for, but he spends a lot of time swimming in our pool and he really enjoys being in the water,” she said. “He also loves all of the Disney movies, especially Coco and Moana, so we thought a Disney Cruise would be the perfect wish for him!”
Thatcher’s family also knew that he would want to visit the Atlantis aquarium to see all the fish, and he had a blast feeding sting rays at their other excursion on Castaway Cay. “I think feeling the sting rays and being in the water is energizing and sensory for him, so he really enjoyed that part,” she said.
Another highlight was Thatcher’s private meeting with Captain Mickey and visiting Gatorland in Florida.
“He absolutely loved that!” said Bethany, who shared the cruise was a fun adventure for everyone. “My kids had never been on a cruise before so the whole experience was a new for all of us and that made it really fun.”
Bethany says she can’t pick a favorite part of their trip, but one thing that stands out is the way others interacted with Thatcher throughout the week.
“It was really amazing to see how strangers reacted to us when they saw we were a Make-A-Wish family. People usually don’t give us a second glance or go out of their way to ignore us and avoid eye contact because Thatcher is in a wheelchair and it makes people uncomfortable. During his wish trip, people were doing the opposite and making a point to talk and be kind to Thatcher,” she said.
“We met other Make-A-Wish families on the ship and every night, the crew left Thatcher special surprises and treats in our room,” she continued. “Thatcher was so happy, and it was wonderful for our family not to worry about a single appointment or therapy the whole time we were there.”
Since they’ve returned, Thatcher’s family has moved into their new home and his wish marks the start of this new chapter in his life.
“He’s happier now,” Bethany continued. “Thatcher is a happy kid already, but I think the older kids feel our stress and that affects Thatcher, too. He needed a break from everything and his wish not only rejuvenated him but all of us as well.”