The sky alight with fireworks, sparkling colors dance across three-year-old Charlee’s face as her parents look on.
“I knew I would see the magic in her eyes … It was such a surreal moment when the fireworks started. It made me reflect on how far Charlee has come and how many odds were against her but she is here and healthy," says Charlee's mom, Erica. “I will remember that moment forever.”
At 20 months old, Charlee was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma, a type of cancer. “Our hearts sank and we started the scariest journey: five rounds of chemotherapy, two stem cell transplants, 12 rounds of radiation, and five cycles of immunotherapy. It was the longest 16 months of our lives.”
Eager for relief from the anxieties of all they were facing, Charlee’s parents reached out to their social worker, Deb, to connect with Make-A-Wish® Massachusetts and Rhode Island. “During treatment, our daughter couldn’t do much, especially given her age," recalls Erica. "We had a long time being isolated from the outside world after her two transplants.” It was then that Charlee began to really love Mickey and Minnie Mouse and the Disney princesses as she looked at books and watched movies – and her wish to go to Walt Disney World® Resort began to take shape.
Through her wish to visit the Florida theme parks, Charlee and her family were able to leave their feelings of isolation behind as they lived magical moments – from the Magic Kingdom fireworks to even simply taking a swim in a pool, something Charlee hadn’t been able to do during treatment. All of her favorite princesses signed her autograph book and, says Erica, “We still go through it every night and read off each one of their names!”
“We had the most amazing week. To see Charlee smile and have fun…This was the magic we had been yearning for!”