Dylan’s Smiles of Pure Joy

Our guest blogger, Dana, writes of her son Dylan’s Dream Come True Trip to Florida. When Dylan, with Chiari malformation, was granted his dream of a trip to Disney World, it provided just the right motivation to recover from brain surgery.

See What a Dream Can Do…

“When our son was at his sickest, he began to ask to go to Disney World. At the time, he was obsessed with the Lion King and wanted to go to Animal Kingdom. Since we would never be able to afford the trip on our own, we contacted several national and local wish granting organizations. More than one said that chronic illness never qualifies for a wish. I made one final Google search with the slight hope of finding anywhere that he would qualify. We were lucky enough to discover Sunshine Foundation.

We were thrilled when we received the call that our son was approved. We are going to Disney World! But soon after we received our travel date, we were told our son needed brain surgery. His operation was in February, and we traveled to Florida in May. Everyone, including us, were shocked how quickly he recovered. I truly believe that knowing we were going to Disney helped my son heal. Having something to look forward to makes a world of difference in the life of a chronically ill child. We started our countdown to Disney soon after he came home from the hospital. The closer that date came, the more excited our entire family became. And it was the first time in a long time that our son was excited about anything.

We visited the Disney and Universal theme parks. And our son saw the Lion King and met Rafiki. I can tell you details about our trip like the rides we rode, the shows we saw, and the food we ate, but the best thing about that trip were the smiles it created. Not forced smiles or the instant smile you make when someone is taking your picture, but real smiles of pure joy. They are smiles my family would had never had without Sunshine. And I honestly couldn’t remember the last time our son smiled as much as he did on that trip.

The lives of families like ours are constant doctor visits, hospital stays, surgeries, and tests. For months on end our family kept emergency bags packed in case we had to suddenly travel to the hospital. Our other children missed school, birthday parties, events, and activities to be with their brother. Chronic illness in children affects the whole family. However, the Sunshine Foundation is the only wish granting organization that acknowledges this. I am proud to say that I think of the Sunshine Foundation as family.

Our story is just one of the many families whose lives were changed by the Sunshine Foundation. We frequently talk about our wonderful memories. And while so many children and their families have wonderful memories because of the Sunshine Foundation, there are still so many more waiting to create happy memories of their own. The Sunshine Foundation depends upon the kindness of us all to make these dreams come true. Be the person that makes the difference. Every Sunshine family like mine will be grateful.” —Dylan’s mom, Dana

How You Can Help

This Holiday Season, please Make a Gift, to help make more dreams come true for children like Dylan that live every day with a life-long illness or condition. Children that endure countless surgeries, treatments, and therapies because there are no cures for their chronic health conditions.

Chiari malformation

Chiari malformation is a condition in which brain tissue extends into the spinal canal, present at birth. The National Institute of Health defines Chiari malformation as a “structural defect in the base of the skull and cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance.” There are four different classifications of Chiari malformation. Someone with Chiari malformation often suffers from other associated conditions.


We are grateful to the All-Volunteer Delaware County Chapter for answering Dylan’s dream.

More Magical Dream Stories