We have been to 3 parks in three days. The weather has ranged from sunshine to thunderstorms with temperatures consistently around 30° C.
We have been to Animal Kingdom (Nathan’s favourite), Epcot (mine and Heather’s favourite) and Magic Kingdom (Anna’s favourite).
We’ve been on the Kilimanjaro Safari, watched the Festival of the Lion King and ridden the legend of the forbidden mountain. Heather and I have eaten in Marrakech, drunk margaritas in Mexico and tasted Sauvignon blanc in New Zealand at the Epcot food and wine round the world Festival. Heather and Nathan have been to space and back. Anna and Nathan have been transformed into a princess and a knight at the bibbitty bobbity boutique.
But best of all, we have met almost every single Disney princess – some of them several times. Pocahontas, Tiana, Jasmine, Mulan, Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Aurora, Ariel, Rapunzel, Ana and Elsa.
Anna’s give kids the world badge and our special fast pass meant we didn’t need to queue. We were escorted to the front of every single queue. Absolutely amazing!
Anna and Nathan are both very very happy. Heather and I are both very very tired.
It was a long journey on Saturday – check-in was at 7 AM and we finally arrived at Give Kids The World (GKTW) village around 5 PM local time (10 PM Scotland time). Travelling with a child with additional needs means everyone knows who you are and is ready to help and support you at every stage. From the minute we arrived at Glasgow airport right through to final destination, we were well looked after. We were paged at the same time as the flight was called and everyone greeted us by name from then onwards – at the gate, baggage handlers and cabin staff. The Virgin Atlantic crew were absolutely amazing, checking we were all ok throughout the flight, bringing special treats for Anna and Nathan, helping as much as they could with getting Anna to/from the incredibly small airplane toilets, organising a captain’s announcement to the whole plane about Anna’s wish trip and bringing us some of the perks of first class (even though we weren’t sitting there) such as a gorgeous miniature tiered tower of cakes. We met not just the captain but the entire crew!
Anna’s snapdragon wheelchair survived it’s first plane flight with lots of comments from fellow passengers, airport staff and small children (especially boys) about how they’d never seen anything like it before and how cool it was!
The GKTW village is amazing – it’s really hard to describe how welcoming everyone is to Anna (known as ‘the wish child’) and us, her family. However we have already had to address some misconceptions from some of the local volunteers – namely German is not the native language in Scotland, my 21yr old sister Heather is not 28 years old (she was horrified) nor the mother of Anna and Nathan, I am not their grandmother and Mary Poppins is an English nanny character not a disney princess. Other than that, all is well.
The gift fairy comes ever day when we are out and leaves presents for the children. Anna and Nathan both have chosen their pillow of dreams and Anna’s wish star now rests with over 100,000 others on the ceiling in the castle of miracles. Taxis are organised to take us to and from the parks each day and there are activities and events in the mornings and evenings such as character visits, a pool party, Halloween event (tonight) and Christmas celebrations (they try and cover all seasons/annual events as some children may not have the opportunity otherwise). We spent Sunday here just taking it easy after a very long day travelling – both Anna and Nathan are loving swimming- and we are off to the parks tomorrow.
Anna has been off treatment for six months now and the difference in her is unbelievable. It just shows how ill she must have felt whilst on all the different medications. She is stronger, louder, happier and really just back to being Anna.
So what have we been up to during this time? Just normal day-to-day things which have missing from our lives for so long. We’ve enjoyed the summer holidays, spending time at Crieff Hydro for mum and dads 50th wedding anniversary,, the wonderful fully accessible crathie cottages in braemar and the beautiful Callum’s Cabin on the isle of Bute . Since term started in August, Anna has been going to school almost every day. She is now also going to after-school activities – music buds and drama classes. She goes swimming once a week with me and spends time at Barnardos each week. We go out at the weekends to shop, eat out, visit historic Scotland places,… just much more like a normal life.
We are still regular visitors to sick kids – Anna has monthly haematology reviews as well her bone strengthening infusion. We work closely with the physiotherapist and occupational therapist to continue to build whatever strength Anna has left. But dealing with all of this with Anna as well and strong as she can be in herself makes such a difference. We can deal with any challenges that come our way.
I’m having trouble uploading photos tonight so I’ll need to add them later. But the other really exciting thing that is happening six months after treatment ending is that we are off to Disney World! We fly out tomorrow morning…