Make-A-Wish Foundation volunteers Thursday surprised a 13-year-old Central Texas girl who has a rare disease with news that her wish to go to Disney World has been granted.
Elizabeth Nickel, 13, has epilepsy and 22Q, a chromosomal disorder that affects her heart, immune system, cognitive abilities, and causes anxiety and other complications.
“She sees about nine specialists,” Elizabeth’s mother Candace Nickel said.
Thursday afternoon, the Make-A-Wish volunteers and Elizabeth’s family surprised the teenager at Axtell Middle School with balloons and the news that she’s going to Disney World.
They gave her a backpack and a T-shirt with the Make-A-Wish logo to help get her ready for the trip as friends and classmates looked on before sharing cupcakes in the school’s cafeteria.
The Nickel family will leave on May for Florida and will stay for a week in an all-expense paid hotel with passes to the Disney parks.
Elizabeth said she’s most excited about the prospect of meeting the character Elsa from “Frozen.”
Elizabeth had no idea the family was going on the vacation, and her mother said the trip has been something they’ve been hoping to do for over a year.
“We’re going for a week in Florida, which is something I’ve always wanted to do but could never afford because of medical care and all that,” Nickel said.
Nickel said the trip will remind her daughter that she is not defined by her disease.
“It’ll let her know it’s doable, and she can go anywhere she wants to go and not be burdened just because she has to plan around her medical care and worry about being sick,” she said.
Waco native Donna Phelps and her daughter Jenna are volunteers with the Make-A-Wish organization.
Jenna suffered from leukemia and epilepsy while growing up, and received a liver transplant when she was in her teens.
The Phelps family was granted a trip to Disney World more than 20 years ago.
“It’s coming full circle and helping other kids and giving back is what I wanted to do. She’ll remember this for the rest of her life,” Jenna Phelps said.
Now, the pair volunteers and helps other children make unforgettable memories.
“Make-a-Wish, their goal and mission is to give kids hope, strength, and joy and I know Elizabeth is going have the most joy next week,” Donna Phelps said.