Wish Stories

Cora’s Magical Birthday Wish!

Since being diagnosed with Neuroblastoma at the age of 5, Cora has been dreaming of the day she and her family could escape the hospital visits and enjoy a magical, worry-free adventure at Disney World. Almost two years later, after clear scans, that wish came true last month!! Cora and her family flew to Florida, stayed at Give Kids the World village and made the most of every second of her trip.

Cora’s parents shared the impact of her wish, “Honestly, it was a magical week. We didn’t have to pay for anything, we didn’t have to plan almost anything, and we didn’t have to worry about school, work or medical treatments. It was just a really deep breath of fresh air in what has often felt like drowning over the past two years.”

Cora met Mickey, Minnie and her favorite – Moana! They also drove an hour away for the kids to touch the ocean for the first time right before sunset. Cora was able to celebrate her 7th birthday on their last full day there by seeing the fireworks at Magic Kingdom!

“Last year we were in the most difficult part of our journey during stem cell treatment and we tried our best to have a few cousins and brothers up to celebrate. She doesn’t complain a lot about anything, but she commented multiple times over the past year how much she hated being in the hospital for her birthday. So, to have this magical trip on her birthday could not have felt any more different.”

Please join us in wishing Cora a happy belated 7th birthday!! We are so happy she got to celebrate in “The Most Magical Place on Earth”!

How Has The Rainbow Connection Impacted Me?

The Rainbow Connection competitive scholarship program awards $1,000 to exceptional wish children as they pursue higher education. Sydney, a 2023 TRC Scholarship Recipient, reflects on her experience since she first met with The Rainbow Connection.

This past year, I have had a chance to get re-involved with The Rainbow Connection. It is an amazing organization that has been there for me and my family during my treatments and well beyond. Many other organizations were supportive in the moment of most need, but to see an organization still care about me long after my treatments means so much.

During my treatments, Rainbow Connection was the one group that truly gave me and my family hope. My treatments began in 2010 and were hard. I missed most of first grade due to a low immune system. There were days that planning the wish trip were what kept my family (including my older brother) full of hope. We decided on a trip to Disney in February 2012. Finally – the day of the trip arrived. We were picked up at the house in a limo! My brother and I were so excited. We stayed at Give Kids the World Village. As an 8 and 11 year old…we were in heaven! Ice cream whenever we wanted and Candy Land looking buildings with so many activities. I will never forget my Gold Star going on the ceiling in the Castle of Miracles. It was so magical. It brought hope. A little piece of me will always be there. We were able to go to all the parks at Disney, Universal Studios, SeaWorld and even did indoor skydiving! The best part was that we could go on rides as many times as we wanted and got to skip the lines. The Rock-n-Rollercoaster was my favorite ride and I loved meeting all the Disney Princesses. For the first time in a long time – cancer was not the conversation, we laughed as a family with nothing to fear, we had hope. We were a normal family. Rainbow Connection granting my wish will forever provide some of our greatest memories.

This past year, I was asked to be the Guest Speaker at the 43rd Annual Dobson Open. It was 9 years after attending the 32nd Annual Dobson Open as the honorary wish child. I shared my story with the audience, got to see and meet the 4,000th Rainbow Connection wish child and experience the gracious donors that provide such amazing experiences for all of the wish children like myself. It was a wonderful night.

I was also the proud recipient of The Rainbow Connection Scholarship last year. The scholarship award breakfast was very special. Seeing and hearing the stories of the 19 other recipients was very special. All of us had different health care battles but they have made us all amazing survivors who are determined to change the world and were so appreciative of our Rainbow Connection “connection”.

I am currently in my second semester of college at Hope College. I was recently officially admitted to the Nursing Program and am one step closer to my dream of becoming a Pediatric Oncology Nurse. The Rainbow Connection has helped me during the most difficult time of my life giving me and my family hope and is still here with me today helping me achieve my dreams.

We are very excited to continue to support Sydney through her education and wish her, along with our other recipients, the best of luck in their academic year!

Jake’s Biggest SURPRISE!

Meet 4-year old, Jake! Jake was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in April 2021 and has been on quite the journey since his diagnosis. Jake and his family were originally scheduled to embark on his Wish Trip in November 2022, but due to a relapse, the trip needed to be postponed. After undergoing a second bone marrow transplant using his mom’s stem cell donation (she was a perfect match!), and additional chemo, Jake FINALLY got to enjoy his trip to Disney World in May 2023!

When asked what his favorite part of the trip was, Jake said, “The entire trip! I can’t just pick one thing!”

Jake and his siblings absolutely loved the pool at GKTW, the ride Soarin, Guardians of the Galaxy at Epcot, meeting Ana and Elsa, and collecting sea shells at Cocoa Beach! However, getting ice cream any time they wanted was definitely at the top of list! So much so that Jake named his ice cream “The Official Jake.” It was chocolate ice cream topped with nerds, whipped cream, M&M’s, and sprinkles – YUM! Another highlight of Jake’s wish trip is that it was a total SURPRISE!!! Jake and his sister did not know they were heading to Disney World until the night before – best surprise ever!!

Jake’s mom shared that “This experience meant everything. Jake has not been able to be a normal kid or do normal kid things for over two years” and “It was our very first family vacation ever and we had the time of our lives. It was the perfect week.” Jake is still in maintenance treatment, but continues to get stronger each and every day! We are so glad that Jake and his family enjoyed their trip to Disney World and have this “perfect week” to cherish for the rest of their lives!

The Magic of Give Kids the World Village

 Wish Child, Ashton, was diagnosed with cancer in December 2021, at just 3 years old. After multiple rounds of chemotherapy, he completed treatment in June of 2022 and then had his port removed 6 months later! Now, a few months away from turning 5, Ashton is healthy, happy and getting stronger every day!!

This past February, Ashton got to travel to Disney World and Give Kids the World (GKTW) with his mother and grandparents and they had a BLAST! This trip was much needed and well deserved as Ashton had to stay isolated during his treatment course – thus making this trip something huge to look forward to!

Ashton especially loved Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom where he was able to meet Mickey Mouse! Overall, Ashton’s favorite part of his trip was exploring all that GKTW has to offer! His grandmother shared: “I honestly cannot express how amazing GKTW has been. It has been awesome seeing him be a kid and out of his bubble.” Ashton and his grandparents loved GKTW so much that they went back in March for an alumni visit!!

We are so happy for Ashton and his family to have experienced the pure joy and happiness that a wish can provide and we are so excited that they have these memories to reflect on forever!!

Crystal Clear Oceans for Ava

Ava is a special and brave young girl. At just 13 years old, she has endured more than most people experience in a lifetime. In May 2019, Ava was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor and has undergone endless bouts of chemo and radiation, surgeries, scans, and hospital visits ever since. However, this has not stopped Ava from wishing, hoping and enjoying life!

Ava loves art, Disney movies, soccer, basketball – she is very athletic – and her favorite color is blue. When it came to her Wish, Ava saw pictures of the crystal clear water and beautiful beaches and immediately knew she wanted to go to Maui, Hawaii. Oh what a time she had! Ava was most excited to relax on the beach and just take in the beauty of the island with her family. She was also able to partake in a boat excursion to snorkel in the open water! Ava and her family visited the Maui Ocean Center, drove the Road to Hana and explored waterfalls. It was a magical, magical trip for Ava and her family!

The best part about this trip, for them, was just being able to spend quality time together as a family without having to think about the hospital, upcoming appointments, blood draws, or surgeries. This is what matters most about a Wish Trip –families simply enjoying one another without the thought of the child’s illness. #AvaStrong

Julia’s Magical Birthday!

Julia from Williamston celebrated her 10th birthday at the most magical place on earth, Disney World! Julia and her family stayed at Give Kids the World Village, ate ice cream for breakfast and rode every ride that Julia was tall enough to go on!

When Julia was diagnosed in December 2020, a wish gave her family something positive to focus on and dream about. During treatment and doctor visits, Julia looked forward to her wish and it helped her get through many challenges. Her mom says, “Julia experienced so much joy while she was at Disney World. Now, we can always draw upon those memories and find joy when we need it.” We are so glad that Julia was able to spend her wish celebrating and create so many joyful memories with her family!

Darrian’s Disney World Wish

On Halloween 2021, when Darrian underwent emergency brain surgery after having a stroke, it was hard for his family to envision better days ahead. That’s where The Rainbow Connection stepped in!

Now, just 8 months later, look at Darrian’s smile while he, along with his little brother and parents, took Disney World by storm!! During their weeklong stay in Central Florida, Darrian rode rollercoasters, posed with superheroes, swam in the ocean, and simply got to be a kid again!

The family even had the opportunity to celebrate “Halloween Night” at Give Kids The World Village and everything came full circle! Instead of being stuck in a hospital room during trick or treating, Darrian was gifted a brand new costume and ran around collecting candy, playing games, and laughing the whole time!!

Darrian’s mom shared, “There’s nothing I could say to show my appreciation for our support system and The Rainbow Connection for ensuring our trip was nothing less than perfect.”

A Wish and More: Ashley’s Journey to Disney World!

The Rainbow Connection competitive scholarship program awards $1,000 to exceptional wish children as they pursue higher education. Ashley, a 2021 TRC Scholarship Recipient, reflects on her experience since she first met with The Rainbow Connection.

The Rainbow Connection (TRC) has impacted my life in so many ways beginning with the first time I met Ingrid, my Wish Director. I’ll never forget that day, it was right after Christmas and I was beginning my second round of chemotherapy and was very sick. Ingrid told me I was eligible for a wish and for a moment I forgot I had cancer, there were so many possibilities. After some thought I chose to go to Disney World: the happiest place on earth.

My name is Ashley and I was fourteen when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. My life before cancer revolved around school, friends, clubs, soccer, choir and dance. My life changed instantly. I was out of school for most of my freshman year while I went through five cycles of chemotherapy and fourteen radiation treatments. My wish was on my mind while I fought through this cancer and I had something to look forward to once I was healthy.

I beat the cancer and it was time to celebrate and regain my life but the side effects took over my body. My walking became difficult and my muscles became weak. Eventually, I was diagnosed with Peripheral Neuropathy which was induced by the chemotherapy and lost the ability to walk. My Disney wish was temporarily put on hold and physical therapy began. Treatment was though but eventually my baby steps turned into strides until eventually I could walk short distances while wearing braces. TRC was by my side the entire time. They sent me “happy packs” when I was feeling defeated, e-mailed and called to check-in. TRC was a huge part of my recovery and gave me a reason to stay focused and regain my strength to walk.

TRC’s Walk for Kids, a 5k walk supporting sick kids was held in Fall of 2019. My family and friends created “Team Ashley” on my behalf and raised money to support granting wishes. I was becoming stronger every day and decided I wanted to try to walk some of the course. I put my braces on and began walking. I did it! We were the last team to complete the race, but I completed the entire 3.1 mile walk. I can still hear the cheers of everyone surrounding the finish line.

TRC has proven to be more than just an organization that grants wishes for sick kids. It also supports the families that are coping with hardships. One thing I learned from my diagnosis is that cancer affects the entire family. We struggled financially because my parents missed work to be by my side while I was in the hospital, receiving chemotherapy, surgeries, appointments and therapy. TRC was there to help my family when we needed it most, whether it was a utility bill, groceries or Christmas parties and presents or an afternoon of fun activities.

Four years later, I am a senior in high school and thriving, physically, mentally and academically. We made it through the pandemic, I’m back in school, preparing to graduate and my Disney World wish is finally going to come true this summer. I’m still in therapy, but look forward to being able to walk every single park in Disney World. I cannot think of a better way to put my high school years behind me and prepare for my future as I plan to go to Saginaw Valley State University to become a Nurse.

Ashley’s wish came true this month and she had a blast celebrating all her accomplishments before she starts her freshman year of college! We are very excited to continue to support Ashley through her education and wish her, along with our other recipients, the best of luck in their academic year!

Gavin’s Disney World Wish Came True!

Gavin, along with 33 other wish children since January of this year, received his wish to go to Disney World! Each family stayed at Give Kids the World Village, a private resort reserved for wish families that features a spa, movie theater, mini golf, carousel, ice cream shop, and more!

For Gavin, this was the chance to celebrate life with his family after everything he had been through. As soon as  his oncologist mentioned the possibility of a wish, Gavin knew he wanted to go to Disney World. The Rainbow Connection worked to make that happen as soon as it was safe to do so. From the very start, it was an experience full of joy for Gavin and his family! When the limo picked up the family to bring them to the airport, Gavin’s mom sent the following photo with Gavin saying, “I just can’t stop smiling!”

Gavin and his brother ate ice cream for breakfast and dinner five days in a row – and he thought it was the coolest thing. There was never any mention of cancer, scans or pokes. He was just there, having the time of his life, being a kid and eating ice cream.

Gavin’s mom says, “They say that Magic Kingdom is where dreams come true but honestly, it’s organizations like The Rainbow Connection that dreams actually do come true for these kids!” ​


The Opportunity to Dream: Austin’s Wish Provides Hope and Perseverance

The Rainbow Connection competitive scholarship program awards $1,000 to exceptional wish children as they pursue higher education. Austin, a 2020 TRC Scholarship Recipient, reflects on his wish for a shopping spree. When asked to describe how The Rainbow Connection made an impact on his life, he responded…

“I was first diagnosed with melanoma my sophomore year of high school – which led to a two year cancer battle. Understanding that I had a wish that could be granted at any time helped give me courage and something to look forward to while going through the various medical treatments. My wish consisted of a shopping-spree and dinner with very close friends. After going through two hard and long years battling cancer, it was truly a day and experience that will last a lifetime for me.

Upon first hearing about my wish, I started to think that maybe there was a light at the end of the tunnel. After the surgeries that removed my cancer were completed, I was placed on a medication called Interferon for a year, which was used to help prevent my cancer from coming back. While going through the treatment, I would try to remind myself about the wish I was to receive. At the time, I did not know what wish I wanted to receive, so, thinking about the particular wish I would want distracted my mind from the terrible side effects of Interferon. The sense of hope and positivity my wish instilled really did help me persevere through my cancer battle.

My wish also impacted me when I received the wish itself. When it came time to receive my wish, I was thankfully cancer-free. I chose a shopping spree and I was lucky enough to bring my brother, close friend and girlfriend. The day started by picking up my loved ones and me in our very own limousine! I felt so special. We drove to our local mall and I was able to buy whatever I pleased! I also let my loved ones buy something of their liking as well – because they had been there for me throughout my entire battle with cancer. We finished the day by going to an awesome restaurant. This was a day that was beyond special to me because the wish was something that I had been looking forward to throughout my battle with cancer. I know from personal experience how much a wish can positively affect a person’s life. After having so many negative experiences, I was finally able to experience something so wholesome that I would remember for the rest of my life.”

The Rainbow Connection’s impact began early for Austin as he was able to imagine the possibilities of a wish to help get him through treatment, which led to a very wholesome and “magical” day of fun surrounded by friends. We are very excited to continue to support him through his education and wish him, along with our other recipients, the best of luck in their academic year!