Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Wish Connection: Ellie's Dream Come True

Earlier this year, Ellie was nominated to receive a wish from the Wish Connection!  We found out a few months ago that she was going to have a wish granted and we couldn't have been more shocked or excited for our Bearity Bear.


Watching a child’s face light up with joy is priceless. Whether it’s a trip to Disney World, a swim with the dolphins or hanging out with a famous country singer, it’s the chance for a dream to come true and to lift up a child, and their entire family, along the way. That’s what we do as part of The Wish Connection. We’re here to grant amazing wishes, create smiling faces, and build a connection between families and a community that cares. The Wish Connection is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that was formed in the fall of 2006 by AT&T employees in San Antonio who wanted to be directly involved in granting the wishes of children who have life-threatening or chronically debilitating medical conditions. The Wish Connection is truly a unique wish-granting organization that has expanded its grant-giving to Austin and Dallas, Texas and several locations in California.


To make a wish come true for so many deserving children, it takes the hard work of many dedicated staff, volunteers, donors and other supporters. Click here to learn more about the process of wish giving.
Our Mission: The Wish Connection is dedicated to granting the wishes not only of children with life-threatening medical conditions, but also the wishes of children who suffer from chronically debilitating (although not necessarily life-threatening) medical conditions.
Our Logo: Our logo represents how our communities can come together to lift up one child in his or her time of need. All of us, working together, form the star that represents the spirit of unlimited possibilities and the wishes of the children.

Ellie's Wish:
There is so much that goes into organizing a wish for a child.  Ellie's team consisted of, I believe, 18 team members.  There was a California Team and a local, Austin Team.

We had a general idea of what Ellie's wish was going to entail, but on Memorial Day weekend, 2 members of TWC Team came to our house with a beautiful Shutterfly book and binder explaining everything about Ellie's dream Wish.  I will be telling you about Ellie's dream wish mostly using pictures:

The big send off:
With a new Frozen backpack stuffed full of fun activities for our flight (donated by TWC), we prepare to head to Anaheim, California for a fun-filled adventure!  A few AT&T employees and their children brought donuts to our house while we waited for the limo to arrive.

The limo arrives at the Austin Bergstrom airport and we are greeted by another AT&T employee who helps us with our luggage.  Security was fun.  There was no line and yet, we were detained for nearly 30 minutes.  1. the stroller needed to be swabbed.  2. Ellie's travel oxygen concentrated needed to be looked at for a good 10 minutes. 3. my backpack which contained the power cord for the oxygen, medications (liquid, pills, inhalers, wound care ointments), snacks, and cecostomy supplies needed to be manually checked.  There may have been a minor fit as Ellie didn't want to keep her shoes on (children under 12 years-old do not need to take off their shoes to go through security) because mommy and daddy took off theirs so she had to throw herself on the ground, cry, and yank off her shoes.

We arrived at the Long Beach airport!  Again, we were greeted by a welcoming committee.  The balloons were a BIG hit!  Thankfully we had 3 people to keep Ellie entertained because there was a debacle with the rental car company involving the carseat.

Huntington Beach, California:
The Hilton Waterfront Resort (Huntington Beach): we got the VIP treatment.  Complimentary breakfasts each morning during out stay.  (so . . . Ellie is completely off the Risperdal and doesn't eat much anymore.  In case you are wondering, the buffet was $22.  Ellie ate 1/3 slice of bread.  That is some expensive bread!).  Her room was stocked with Frozen beach gear, her favorite snacks, and a bottle of wine for us tired parents!

We spent both our mornings in Huntington Beach in the ocean.  Bear was so excited.  Last year, we went to Seal Beach to see Drew's dad and his wife.  She couldn't go into the ocean due to very low B-cell lymphocytes as we had to worry about necrotizing fasciitis aka flesh eating bacteria.  So this was a big treat for her.

Irvine Park:
Party!  Did someone say party?!  The AT&T employees threw a huge Frozen party for Ellie at Irvine Park.  Complete with a bouncy house, train rides, unlimited pony rides and cupcakes, Ellie had a blast!

There was a surprised guest appearance -Elsa!  It was quite amusing to see Ellie steal the train engineer's microphone to "help" Elsa sing.

Anaheim, California:

Hilton Anaheim:
Again we are greeted by AT&T employees where Ellie receives a letter (and CAKE) from Elsa!  This Hilton is located near the Convention Center and Disneyland so there is a Disney store in the hotel.  Unbeknownst to Ellie, we were going to be attending The Wiggles concert the next day.  The Wiggles is the entire reason we ended up in Anaheim as they were only touring a few cities in California and 2 cities on the East Coast. We got complimentary breakfasts and they have Mickey Mouse waffles! Ellie decided to play with hers instead of eating it.

Rock And Brews:
Okay, they need to open one of these in Austin.  We happened to stumble along this place and decided to check it out.  The walls and entire ceiling were covered with artwork and flags of famous bands such a Hendrix, Metallica, Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, etc.  Music videos were playing on all the big screens and all the dishes are named after bands.  Andrew also took great pleasure in coloring.

Knott's Berry Farm:
TWC managed to get us VIP passes to this amusement park.  Similar to Six Flags, this park has all sorts of rides for kids and adults.  Bear pretty much spent 2.5 hours repeatedly riding the train, the little truck thing that runs on tracks (we had to try out each color truck), and the carousel.  She also discovered Snoopy and walked out of the park with all sorts of Snoopy paraphernalia and new, beloved rainbow Snoopy flip flops.  We had tickets to Soak City within the park, but Ellie Bear was going into that cranky tired mood.

The Rainforest Cafe:
Well, that was sort of a disaster.  Ellie was pretty tired at this time and she was refusing to leave the hotel room without her rainbow latex balloons with The Wiggles on them.  We told her she could bring one balloon.  She selected the red balloon and we tied it to the handle of her backpack with the balloon only rising 2 inches above the handle.

We didn't realize that the Rainforest Cafe was inside some sort of Disney Town that involved parking and security lines.  Andrew goes to park the car while Ellie and I get started on security.  As they search her backpack, the guy informs me that she most likely cannot bring her balloon into the Town. He says he will check with his boss after I prepared him for a potential tantrum.  As he radios his boss, Ellie has an epic meltdown because he is holding onto her backpack and balloon.  The poor, young man looks flustered and waves us through without even waiting for his boss' reply.  Then the metal detector woman tries to take the balloon away until I told her we were already told we could bring it in.  Seriously!?!?!  Who the hell takes away a balloon from a little kid!?!?!  And in a place that caters towards children!  It isn't like it was hurting anyone.

The meal was delicious and Ellie thought the elephants were hilarious - she was waving bye bye to them and then telling me that they were "sleeping" when they were no longer moving.

The Wiggles:
The Wiggles have been around for 27 years and the blue Wiggle, Anthony, is the only original cast member left.  Ellie was gifted a personalized backpack and personalized Wiggle's shirt just for the occasion.  We were granted backstage passes where the Bear nearly passed out due to the shock of seeing her favorite TV characters.  The roadie took about 20 pictures of all of us and in only one was she actually looking at the camera!  They all then sang her a song of her choice and Ellie chose "Do The Monkey", her favorite.  It was such a wonderful and unique experience for her.

The Wiggles: Emma (yellow), Lachy (purple), Simon (red), and Anthony (Blue)

Welcome home!
When we arrived at the Long Beach airport, we are greeted by our AT&T friends and they are bearing more activities for Ellie to bring onto the plane.  They assisted us with our luggage and we had no issues with security.  TSA pretty much checked the oxygen concentrator and that was that.  We had another exciting limo ride home and she was surprised by her friends and many of the TWC friends and their children at our house for a "Welcome Home" party.  Waiting for Ellie in the backyard was a surprise sandbox!

Andrew, Ellie, and I would like to thank all members of The Wish Connection Team for organizing such a wonderful trip for Ellie and our family.  It has been an amazing experience and an adventure that we will never forget.  We would also like to thank all of the companies that have donated items, tickets, meals, and upgrades during her Wish trip.  We will never forget all that you have done for our daughter.

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