Six-year-old Bella Smith has been in and out of the hospital a majority of her life for a condition that affects approximately one in 16,000 people.
The Martha Reid Leadership Academy student has Dravet syndrome. It’s a rare but serious lifelong form of epilepsy that begins in the first year of life with frequent and/or prolonged seizures.
As one can imagine, the diagnosis and proceeding procedures have taken a toll on the Smith family at times. Thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of North Texas, some much-needed relief is in sight.
“Her wish to go on a Disney cruise has been granted,” said Make-A-Wish representative Dennis Baird. “It’s just fun to come out and put a little smile on their faces, get them excited about their wish and bring some hope, strength and joy into their lives as they’ve dealt with some very critical medical issues.”
The Smiths will be setting sail in the beginning of December for five days. Bella found out about the surprise during a schoolwide assembly.
“It was awesome to see her face when she kind of figured out what was going on,” said mother Tori Smith. “She is super excited to see Santa and just have some down time on the boat, so it was very awesome.”
Bella was overwhelmed when she realized that she was the star of the campus assembly. She said she can’t wait to see all the characters that will be aboard the cruise.
“I am excited to see the Disney Princesses. Anna and Elsa are my favorites,” said Bella.
For Bella’s mom, the best part will be the smiles that will be plastered on her family’s face—an expression that is hard to keep in the midst of ongoing medical difficulties.
“It’s hard every day to find joy sometimes because there are so many rough days, but we’re hoping for five wonderful days at sea with no seizures or anything like that. I think it’s just going to bring her and our family a lot of joy,” she said.
Make-A-Wish has been creating life-changing wish experiences for children with critical illnesses around the world since 1980. According to the organization, wishes have proven physical and emotional benefits that can give children with critical illnesses a higher chance of survival.