When a child battles Spinal Muscular Atrophy, or SMA, it is not just the child who struggles. Causing their muscles to waste away, basic functions are passed along to the parents and caregivers of a child who can no longer perform these actions on their own. For Tayden, life was full of worry around this currently incurable disease. However, his wish to meet Elsa helped shift his focus to something better - the possibility of a life helping others like him.
Tayden was diagnosed with SMA a few months before his second birthday. His family couldn't wrap their minds around what this condition even was and how it would affect their precious toddler. They were fearful that they would be forced to painfully witness his decline as the years passed. As he got older, he lost the ability to crawl and his metabolism began to slow, causing a weight gain that the whole family had to bear.
“The older he gets, we are realizing that 1. we don't know how much longer we can carry him up and down stairs with his weight gain and 2. that he tends to catch colds and sicknesses a lot quicker,” his mom, Dana, said about his condition.
With so much stress on the family, Tayden wished for an escape that they could all enjoy together. And his wish gave them that valuable opportunity to reconnect with each other and have quality time as a family.
Though preparing to leave for Walt Disney World was stressful, Dana said her children’s smiles were all worth it. The family most enjoyed the park itself - with the buildings' intricate and magical details and the playful characters Tayden recognized from his favorite shows. They loved everything about their trip and felt so grateful to be given the time to spend together far away from the worries of normal life. Taking silly photos and making memories was Tayden's top priority because he wanted to hold on to those memories forever. Never wasting a moment, the family captured everything they could so the magic would never fade.
At last, Tayden had his special date with Elsa, his favorite Disney character! "He was so happy and excited to see her [Elsa], but nervous at the same time. He didn't know what to say to her" said Dana. At a loss for words, he shyly greeted her and the pair chatted over a game of checkers. His face dropped when she gave him a sweet peck on the cheek and he continued to look for her everywhere they went afterward.
Coming home from their fun-filled and relaxing wish trip, Tayden was finally able to break away from the struggles he faced in day to day moments that we may take for granted. All he wanted was to spend time with his family. He couldn’t wait to make a photo album with all his pictures to share with the rest of his ohana.
His wish made such a lasting impact that he still excitedly talks about going back to Walt Disney World and the Give Kids the World village, and has even said that he wants to move there! He dreams of meeting Elsa all over again and one day volunteering at the village to help other kids like him.
“There was so much involved in making this trip possible and we are forever grateful that we could do it together and have all of those fun times,” said Dana about the impact of their wish trip, ”We had gotten closer on this trip and enjoyed every moment!”