Red Deer, AB, May, 2009 — Eighteen-year-old Ashley is pretty much your typical teenage girl, with the exception that she was born with cerebral palsy, a condition that affects her body movements and muscle coordination. While her physical challenges have required countless visits to physicians and specialists throughout her childhood, Ashley is a born fighter and remains patient and determined.
Ashley and her twin brother, Aaron, were born prematurely, each weighing less than two pounds at birth. Over the years, they have remained very close, supporting each other through every struggle, setback and triumph. The twins have also shared a mutual dream: to visit their favourite Disney characters at the Disneyland resort in Anaheim, California.
Ashley wrote to Sunshine Foundation with this request: “I would like to go to Disneyland because I want to see everything!” She wanted to see all of her favorite characters – Donald Duck, Aladdin and Cinderella. And she also wanted to go on lots of rides!
The challenges faced by the twins in living with cerebral palsy had made this dream – or any trip – seem impossible to Ashley and her family. But when Ashley’s mom learned about The Sunshine Foundation of Canada, what once seemed an impossible dream soon became a reality!
In May 2009, Ashley and her family traveled to California and spent four fabulous days seeing EVERYTHING at Disneyland. As a bonus, Ashley and Aaron were able to celebrate their eighteenth birthdays together at the most magical place on earth!
Ashley would settle for nothing less than the full experience during her Dream trip! Despite her mobility difficulties and a major hip surgery last summer, the determined teen did not want to sit in a wheelchair and insisted on walking throughout her entire visit to the park. As she proclaimed: “I want to walk everywhere; see everything!” And she did! She was exhausted by the end of each day but she would not have had it any other way.
As a result of her Sunshine Dream, Ashley now realizes that there is a bigger world out there, just waiting for her! Her mother, Lorraine, has noticed changes in Ashley’s outlook on the future. Lorraine is amazed that driving the Autopia cars through the highways and byways of Disneyland – something that seemed so insignificant at the time – gave Ashley such a sense of freedom that it inspired her to immediately begin to work toward obtaining her driver’s license. On a larger scale, Ashley now dreams of traveling to even more exciting destinations when she gets older.
In a letter to Sunshine, Lorraine expressed her heartfelt gratitude: “Thank you for the trip of a lifetime! My twins will never forget it. Thank you so much.”
Ashley’s Dream experience was sponsored in part by Lifetouch Canada. It is the generous support of sponsors like Lifetouch that will help Sunshine ensure every child has a chance to live their dream.