When six-year-old Irieyana was diagnosed with a nervous system disorder almost five years ago, her family could have never prepared for the journey that lay ahead of them.
"As she is growing, so does her condition,” said Shannan, Irieyana’s grandmother. "Our family is coping the best way we can. We never expected her injuries to be so severe. We live day by day and everyday is different with Irieyana."
These struggles were made a little lighter when wish granters Shyla Haven and Nicole Durham came into their home and asked Irieyana to dream. Irieyana’s imagination wandered to a place of fairytales and princesses in a land called Arendale, the scene of her favorite movie, Frozen. “Irieyana loves the movie Frozen,” admitted Shannan. “She actually told me one day while watching the movie, that Princess Anna has a head injury just like her, which makes the movie even more special to her. Irieyana just loves to watch Elsa’s powers. She wants to have powers like her one day.” Seeing Elsa and Anna fight through their challenges gives this young girl hope.
And on December 26th, Irieyana’s spirits were lifted to new heights as she took off on her magical journey to Disney World. Her first adventure took her to the bibbidi bobbidi boutique in the Magic Kingdom for a fairytale makeover. Once her princess transformation was complete, Princess Irieyana was finally ready to meet Queen Elsa! The moment she laid eyes on her, Irieyana's whole face lit up with a smile. They shared a warm hug and chatted like they were best friends. For Irieyana it was all real. She felt empowered; like nothing could stand in her way of her dreams.
“This wish trip gave Irieyana a chance to just have fun and be a kid. She didn’t have to worry about which doctor she’s going to see or what kind of treatments she will undergo. It gave her lots of happiness, and gave me joy to see her so happy. She asked me if we could go again one day. I told her definitely yes, we will and she said ‘okay grandma, I will be a big girl and let doctors the doctors check my brain, I won’t cry and we can go Disney World again.’”
The impact of her wish continues to today. During her first visit back to the doctor, Shannan immediately saw a difference in Irieyana’s attitude toward her treatment. “When we returned, Irieyana was back in the doctors office at Shriners for a pre-opt visit, and I noticed a change in her. She was more relaxed and didn’t fuss as much.” The wish had given her strength and revitalized her with something more powerful than any of her medicine: hope.