Amelianna’s story is unlike any other. Born prematurely at 35 weeks, just 1 ½ pounds, and 12 inches long, Amelianna came into this world ready to defy all odds. On the day her mother, Stephanie, found out she was pregnant, she also was diagnosed with a lung and autoimmune disorder. Her lungs only function at 30% capacity and having her daughter would be risky for both. But Stephanie was determined to bring her beautiful daughter into the world and together they would face the changes that came their way.
At eight-months-old, Amelianna was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Just 4 months later, she had her first seizure. At 2 ½, she was diagnosed with Lennox gastaut syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy. Defying the odds once again, at age 3, Amelianna began school.
During a physical therapy session at their home, Amelianna and Stephanie found out about Make-A-Wish. Not too long after, Amelianna met with her wish granters to talk about what her one true wish would be. As any princess would, Amelianna wished to go to Disney World. And this past November, her wish was granted.
“We chose Disney together because we wanted to experience this trip together,” Stephanie told us.
Before the wish occurred, Stephanie began teaching Amelianna about all the characters she was going to meet. Her mom explained that Amelianna was in so much awe, and “as soon as they got to Disney and started seeing all the characters, it was like a whole new world for her! The characters were right in front of her.” Her mother was filled with so much joy at that moment, because of how much emotion her young daughter showed right then and there.
While at the park, Amelianna met with all of her new friends. She spent 30 minutes talking to and taking pictures with Rapunzel and Tiana, but after meeting Donald Duck...she knew immediately he was her favorite.
This wish not only had an impact on Amelianna’s life, but on her mom’s as well. “I think my favorite highlight of the trip was just the joy that I got to see in her being able to ride the rides because they are handicap accessible. She got to experience things that normal kids get to experience, and she loved every minute of it,” said Stephanie. Due to Stephanie’s autoimmune disorder, she does not know how much time she will end up having with her daughter. She could only dream of having the opportunity to take her daughter on a trip like this one.
Stephanie added, “I just think Make-A-Wish is an incredible organization. It gave me the opportunity to experience something I never thought I’d be able to do with my daughter.”
From before, during, and after birth, to every seizure, and every set back, Amelianna and her mother have defied the odds. They have experienced a wish they could have only dreamed about, and have a memory that will last a lifetime.
When reflecting on her daughter’s wish, Stephanie ended with, “Make-A-Wish makes you feel more included. You don’t feel like an outcast. It makes you feel like a normal person and a normal family. You spend so much time in a hospital that you get envious of normal families.”
One wish ended up granting two dreams: a little girl’s dream to go to Disney World and a mother’s dream to experience what they thought was impossible….a trip with her daughter.