May with the backdrop of the Magic Kingdom
It wasn’t until May Reynoso got to meet Mickey and Minnie at the airport that she realized that her wish to go to Disney World and meet all her favorite characters was really coming true. “She was so happy she was crying and was at a loss for words,” Tom Reynoso, May’s dad, said. “There were surprises around every turn and we didn’t know what was planned for us during our dream vacation week.”
The Reynoso family, of Troy, was granted a dream vacation to Orlando, Fla., along with 10 other families, through the Dream Factory foundation in St. Louis. The Dream Factory was established in 1980 in Kentucky and has grown to be the second largest children’s wish-granting organization in the United States. The Dream Factory grants wishes for children who are critically and chronically ill and believe that providing a “dream” can improve the quality of life for these children and extend the life of a critically ill child.
May was first adopted from Guatemala when she was just three years old. When Tom and Pam first met her she was malnourished and the family had no clue that she was a special needs child. May has speech therapy in school and has gone through several surgeries to correct the curvature in her leg. She was wheelchair bound, but is currently working towards using just her walker and canes. May is 11 now and is in the fifth grade at Main Street Elementary. Her favorite subjects are P.E., math, writing and art, to which her parents both say she is very good at. She enjoys playing Wii Basketball with her dad and watching the Disney channel in her free time. May is the youngest in the family of four. She has three older brothers, Zach, Kyle and Tyler.
The family had heard about the Dream Factory and decided that it was at least worth a shot, so they applied for the vacation. It wasn’t a quick yes or no process though. The family went through interviews and in the end was granted their vacation on one stipulation, they had to be prepared to leave on Sept. 20.
The Reynoso’s dream vacation started to unfold when they arrived at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. They were first picked up from the Marriott, to which they were staying at the night before, and driven to the airport in a limo. Many volunteers, family and friends who wished them farewell on their trip greeted them as they made their way to the terminal to board their flight.
“It was something that we would have never been able to do on that level,” Pam Reynoso, May’s mother said. “It was the most extravagant celebration all for May and it was wonderful.” The family was cheered on at Lambert Airport as they had many of the airline employees volunteer to dress up and make May’s trip even better. Cupcakes, cake, gifts and balloons filled the terminal. The family had a connecting flight in Dallas, Texas where they received the same amount to support from the airlines. Volunteers filled the area as they yelled for May and wished them a safe and stress-free trip. The airport celebrations were made possible through American Airlines and Something mAAgic Foundation pairing together. Something mAAgic Foundation has been making kids feel special and working together with American Airlines for the past 18 years.
Once arriving the Reynoso family stayed at Give Kids The World Village. The Village is a 70-acre resort that brings fun for all ages and is specifically designed for children with special needs. The Village is run almost solely by volunteers and has been since it was first established in 1989.
They were able to visit Universal Studios, The Magic Kingdom, The Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Seaworld and i-Fly (indoor skydiving). “The whole family had the best time,” said Pam. Tom added, “We could have taken a vacation but we wouldn’t have been able to do all the things that we did, and the amount of love and support that we received was just phenomenal. There is no way to thank them enough for everything.”
The Reynoso family returned home after a great week together as a family celebrating each other. They are thankful for the opportunity that they were given from Dream Factory (granted their wish to go to Disney World and provided them with a week’s worth of fun), Something mAAgic Flight (who set up the airline volunteers and the celebrations), and Give Kids The World (lodging while they were in Orlando, Florida).
To learn more about Dream Factory visit http://dreamfactoryinc.org/. For more information about Something mAAgic Flight visit www.somethingmaagic.org.