When you wish upon a star

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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Southampton girl going to Disney World

Seven-year-old Ashley Simmonds of Southampton and her family are going to Disney World thanks to the Children’s Wish Foundation. 

AMHERST – Ashley Simmonds can’t wait to see Minnie Mouse.

The seven-year-old Southampton resident and her family will be leaving for Florida early next week and a seven-day adventure at Disney World thanks to the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada.

“She’s so excited to go, it’s all she talks about,” Simmonds’ mother, Stephanie, said Wednesday when Ashley was presented with her Wish package that includes airline tickets, a camera from Black’s Photography, T-shirts, buttons, a backpack and a stuffed animal. “She’s been counting down the days until we go.”

Diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2010, Simmonds chose the trip to Disney World and a stay at the renowned Give Kids the World Resort, giving her a break from doctors visits and treatment and her family a chance to enjoy a stress-free vacation together.

Simmonds said she and her husband, Paul, heard about the Children’s Wish Foundation while staying at Ronald McDonald House in Halifax. Another parent asked them where Ashley had gone for her wish trip. He suggested they let the doctor know about it and from there arrangements were made with the Children’s Wish Foundation to send the family to Florida.

“We heard right around Christmas and there was a lot of excitement that day,” Simmonds said. “She’s been talking about it every day.”

Cheryl Matthews, director of the Nova Scotia Chapter of the Children’s Wish Foundation, said the organization strives to help children between ages three and 18 who have been diagnosed with high-risk, life-threatening illnesses.

“Wishes are granted through referrals. It could be through a doctor or a family member. We work with the doctor and the family to come up with the best time frame,” Matthews said. “The most popular wish for the younger children is to go to Disney World, while for teenage children it’s usually a computer or something like that.”

She said 900 children have been granted wishes in Nova Scotia over 29 years, while another 70 to 75 requests are being processed.

Nationally, 19,000 wishes have been granted for children and their families.

Funding for the wishes comes from the annual wishmaker parades in October and corporate and individual donations. There is no government funding for the program that provincially has a budget of about $1 million.

Matthews said the program is successful because of volunteers in every part of the province. She said a former wish recipient, Selena MacDonald, is the new Cumberland County representative.

People wanting more information on the program, make a contribution or volunteer can contact her at 660-2257.

dcole@amherstdaily.com

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

Organizations: Disney World, Wish Foundation of Canada, World Resort Ronald McDonald House Nova Scotia Chapter

Geographic location: Florida, Halifax, Nova Scotia Cumberland County

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