Sulphur Springs "wish granters" Kelly Davis and Frances Carter surprise 5-year-old leukemia survivor Braydon Smith with an enchantment party last Saturday at Kids Kingdom, where Braydon learned the Make A Wish Foundation would be helping him fulfill his wish to visit Disney World in Florida. Starting Monday, Braydon and his parents, Victoria and Jacoby Smith, will enjoy a week's vacation at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Braydon has battled leukemia for the last 3 1/2 years, but the worst may be over. At his checkup Monday, his parents were told he appears to have finally bested the cancer.
Dreams Come True
Braydon Smith wanted to go to Disney World. His parents wanted his cancer to go away. It looks like both got their wish this week
By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor
May 11, 2008 - "Your wish has been granted."
Those are magical words to anyone, but especially to a child who has courageously battled life-threatening medical problems.
And how fitting that local Make A Wish "wish granters" Kelly Davis and Frances Carter were able to deliver those words to 5-year-old Braydon Smith at Kids Kingdom during an "enchantment party" in his honor last Saturday.
Braydon and his parents, Victoria and Jacoby Smith, will enjoy the royal treatment at Give Kids the World Villa in Orlando, Fla., an area of Disney World for children who have been granted wishes and the families they bring with them, according to Carter.
"Disney is fun, but for Make A Wish kids, it's really great," said Wendy Frizzell, development director for the Northeast Region of Make A Wish foundation of North Texas. "They get to stay in a special resort with their own condo with their name on it. They get to go to the front of the line and often get pulled into parades and shows, things of that sort."
"He's very excited and can't wait to see Buzz and Woody. He really loves 'Toy Story,'" said Mrs. Smith, noting that Braydon had a ton of fun and was surrounded by family and friends at the party.
The wish comes on the heels of Monday's monthly checkup at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where "everything just went great."
"Braydon's counts are just perfect (almost that of a 'normal persons'). LOL. I would say he is just about normal now. Still extra special, but normal. He is right on track" Victoria wrote in a post Tuesday on her son's website, www.braydonsmith.com.
Braydon, who has been off of chemotherapy since the second week of April, will still have to report to his doctors once a month for a year for check ups, just as a precaution. Next month his doctors are expected to schedule his last surgery for port removal and a bone marrow aspiration, his mom said.
But after 42 months of chemotherapy treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia that began in December 2004, that's the best news the Smiths could ask for.
Being told Braydon's wish to go to Disney World is being granted is just icing on the cake for Braydon,and his parents.
On Friday night, Braydon's parentscelebrated the milestone in his treatment by accompanying him in the the ceremonial cancer survivors lap around the Sulphur Springs MiddleS hool track which kicks off Hopkins County Relay For Life. They stayed a few hours, then it was off to bed so they can get an 8 a.m. start Saturday on their 10-day trip from home to Disney World and back.
(The Smiths considered flying to Florida, but after consulting Braydon's doctor, decided it was still too risky for Braydon, as pressurized air could present a problem. At age 2 1/2 he had an operation after he was discovered to have a pseudotumor cerebri -- a false brain tumor -- eight weeks into his treatment for the leukemia.)
They are slated to arrive in Orlanda on Monday, and from Monday-Saturday, they'll be treated like royalty. They've been given passes for Disney World, MGM, Epcot Center, Universal Studios and Sea World.
According to Victoria Smith, the family's understanding is that they can "pretty much go to whatever park we choose, whenever we want."
"It is going to be so much fun. We can't wait, and we are so excited for Braydon," Victoria wrote on Braydon's web site.
Carter, who said the wish was granted after someone forwarded Braydon's name to Make A Wish, was "very impressed" with the family.
"It's been a pleasure to work with them," said Carter. "They are so thankful."
Braydon makes the third wish the foundation has granted in Hopkins County this year, with another request pending that Frizzell expects to be granted. Every child that applies to the foundation and qualifies gets their wish granted, she said.
"Our goal is not to say no to any child," she said, adding that the average cost of granting each wish is about $6,000. "We try to get in-kind donations or matches to help. Every dollar or amount, no matter how big or small, helps us make every wish extra special. Even a $5 donation is enough to get a disposable camera to capture the wish for all time."
Trips to Disney are the most common requests, Frizzell said, but not the only ones. Some of the more interesting requests from their service area, which includes 30 counties, was a boy wanting to be a soldier for a day, another who will be meeting NASCAR star Jeff Gordon, and yet another who has asked to attend the major league All Star baseball game.
Each year, the area Make A Wish Foundation grants about 70 wishes. They've granted 41 wishes so far, and before the end of the summer and the funding year which concludes at the end of August, they hope to grant 29 more to children in North Texas.
In order to do that, Make A Wish depends on the continued monetary, in-kind and voucher donations, as well as individuals willing to serve as wish granters -- people who take and verify the information and notify the children their wish will be granted during an enchantment party they assemble. Anyone interested in becoming a Make A Wish volunteer or in donating may call 903-597-9474. Donations may also be mailed to Make A Wish, 215 Winchester Drive, Tyler TX 75701. All donations will go toward granting wishes of children in the county or city denoted by the donor. Eighty cents of every dollar goes toward wish granting, with 8 cents going toward office costs and 12 cents toward fundraising efforts, according to Frizzell.