Make-A-Wish surprises nine families before Disney On Ice

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- Some families in West Michigan had one of their dreams come true Thursday night. Nine children were surprised with an appearance by Mickey and Minnie Mouse before watching Disney on Ice at Van Andel Arena, all thanks to Make-A-Wish.

All nine of the children are dealing with some sort of life-threatening condition which forces them to deal with issues no child should have to handle. Thursday night was their chance to be a kid again.

The families were seeing Disney on Ice in Grand Rapids thanks to Make-A-Wish Michigan, but were first surprised with a visit from some of their favorite characters.

"This is such a fun night for our Wish families," said Ashley Hays, communications and outreach manager for Make-A-Wish. "It's what we call a wish enhancement. Six of our families here tonight haven't even gone on their wish trips yet, so the anticipation of being able to meet Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse before they head to Disney World is so exciting for them."

Each child got the chance to take pictures and say hello to Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

"It's amazing," said Liz Buist, Make-A-Wish parent. "They've been through a lot so they deserve to be able to enjoy themselves."

"It's such a relief because it's been kind of a hard year," said Megan Loeks, Make a Wish parent. "We've had a lot of hospital visits, a lot of doctor's visits, a lot of pokes and some surgeries. It's just a nice happy time. It's a relief to finally see that smile and just have fun."

Make-A-Wish Michigan is also sending them to Disney World. Six of the families have already been on their trips, some of them will be leaving in two weeks.

"We are about to head to Disney World in a little over a week through Make a Wish and stay there for a week," said Loeks. "That was his wish, that's where he wanted to go."

The meeting helped to get the kids excited before heading to the happiest place on earth.

"Everyone's here to be entertained," said Jacob Marsh, ensemble skater for Disney on Ice. "You get the kids smiling and laughing and singing and dancing. It's my favorite thing. It's really cool to come here and be up close with the kids."

"Make-A-Wish comes in to help bring them hope, strength, and joy when they truly need it the most," said Hays. "They can't control when they're going to feel better. They can't control when they're going to be healthy or what treatments they're going to have next, but to be able to bring a smile to their face and have some joy put back into their life makes the world of difference for them. A wish is good medicine."

Three of the families are going to Disney World this year through Make-A-Wish Michigan. The organization is going to grant 450 wishes to Michigan kids this year.

If you'd like to help make other children's' dreams come true, visit their website.

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