I Wish, I Wish Upon a Star...
|Kolton Dean smiles with excitement after visiting Disneyland. Dean has been diagnosed with a rare form of leukodystrophy, but lives his life to the fullest. Because Dean has a terminal illness, the Make A Wish foundation awarded him and his family with a vacation of a lifetime. For Dean, the trip allowed him to live out a life long dream. |
Many seven year old children dream of visiting Disneyland. The enchantment and magic which surrounds the attraction is unlike any other place on earth for a child. This holds especially true for seven year old Kolton Dean.
As a young boy, Kolton's parents, Kyle and Shawna noticed that their young child had a health problem. Immediately, the Dean's began searching for an answer. After many years of testing and several visits to various medical professionals, the disorder was pinpointed just last year.
According to medical doctors, Dean suffers from a rare form of leukodystrophy. In fact, this type of leukodystrophy is so rare that only six cases have been confirmed in the United States, including Dean.
Magalencephalic leukoencephalopathy, also known as van der knapp syndrome is a disease which affects the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves. This disease is caused by a defective gene which in many cases has been passed on from one generation to another, however it is unsure of how many generations will be effected or if any will be. Unfortunately for the Dean family, this disease has found its way into their lives.
Although Kolton suffers from a serious disease, he is a happy child. According to his mother, Kolton most usually wears a smile upon his face and just simply enjoys life. In fact, a favorite pastime for Kolton is riding dirt bikes with his father.
"His dad will ride on the hills next to our home and take Kolton with him. The whole time, Kolton will wear a smile on his face," explained Shawna.
For a young child who is wheelchair bound, the activity is simple, yet it means so much.
The Dean family tries to participate in as many activities as they possibly can with Kolton. A family member decided that an adventure which would remain with the Dean family for a lifetime would be a trip to Disneyland. The family member then started making phone calls and got the ball rolling with the Make A Wish Foundation who agreed to send the Dean's on a family vacation.
The foundation was originally organized to allow children who suffer from terminal illnesses to experience their most wished for dreams. Some children chose to travel while other ask for objects such as the child who wished for a backyard filled with grass.
|The Dean family stands outside the gates at Disneyland. The trip was truly magical for Kolton who had the chance to meet many of the Disney characters and ride most of the rides at the amusement park.|
After talking with the Dean family, the foundation felt that sending Kolton to Disneyland would truly be a dream come true for the young boy.
After packing their bags, the Dean family prepared for an adventure of a lifetime. It was off to California where the family would stay at hotels, visit resorts, and ride in limousines. For the five days that the family was there, they were treated like royalty.
"We got to ride to and from the airport in a limousine. At Disneyland we were able to move to the front of the line so that Kolton did not have to wait in the sun. This was important because exposure to the sun can advance the stages of his disease," explained Shawna.
The Dean family visited Disneyland July 3-7. Because the family was present during the July 4 festivities, they were able to attend the fireworks display and enjoy all the holiday festivities.
The nightly parade which is held at the resort was a favorite activity for Kolton who's face lit up as the floats passed by. He also had the chance to attend several shows and meet many of the Disney characters, including Minnie Mouse.
"His favorite character was Minnie Mouse. She came up to him and gave him a big hug and he just lit up," Shawna explained.
The family rode as many rides as they could during their visit to the resort, however Kolton enjoyed the fast moving rides the most.
After their vacation was over, the Dean family returned home with many memories to share. The vacation may have only lasted a short time, but the memories will last forever in the minds of Kolton and his family.