Don’t let this cute princess fool you: Katelin is a fighter. She’s had to be.
Born with PHACE, a congenital syndrome with multiple pos-sible effects, Katelin has battled her way through brain surgery and other issues in her 4 short years. None of it has dimmed her love for life.
“She’s been through a lot,” says her mom, Lisa. So has the rest of the family, including dad Rich and big sister Emma, now 7.
A year ago, an MRI showed spinal fluid on Katelin’s brain that had to be removed. “It’s hard to explain to people what it’s like when you have to hand your 3-year-old over to a brain surgeon,” says Lisa, tearing up. “That’s when we learned about Make-A-Wish. Once we found out Katelin was eligible, we asked her, ‘If you could go anywhere or do anything, what would it be?’ Of course she said ‘Disney World!’“
In October 2016, Katelin’s wish came true. The family spent a week not just at Disney, but also LEGOLAND and SeaWorld. “When our plane took off, over the
loudspeaker we heard ‘We’ve got a special little girl on the plane today. So please stop on over and say hi.’ And people did! Of course I was in tears the whole time.” At Disney people continued to reach out to Katelin and her family.
“There was one man I’ll never forget,” says Lisa. “He walked up to Katelin and gave her a pin and said ‘I just want to wish you the best trip ever.’ Kindness like that was healing for Katelin, and for us, as well. It was good to see the girls happy and to get away from all the medical appointments and therapies for a while.” Since then, the family has given back by sharing their story at several Make-A-Wish fundraisers. “People have thanked us for showing the impact a wish can have on a family.”
What would Lisa tell other potential parents of wish kids?
“Just appreciate every second of the wish they’re granted,” she says. “It goes by so quickly. But once you’re part of Make-A-Wish, you’re part of another family forever. The trip may be over, but we will always feel so special and loved.”