March 26, 2014 Edition

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Abagail Bates of Hoxie enjoys talking to Disney princesses and Mickey and Minnie Mouse at her reveal party at Nettleton High School on Feb. 28. Abby was recently granted a trip to Disney World through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, thanks to student organizations and area sponsors.
Submitted photo

Hoxie girl granted wish

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

Most children wish for a lot of things when they are very young, and, if they are lucky, many of those wishes come true. Three-year-old Abagail Bates of Hoxie was thrilled recently when one of her greatest wishes was granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation - a trip to Disney World!

On Feb. 28 a reveal party was held at Nettleton High School where Abby learned that she and her family were going to spend a week in Orlando, Fla., visiting the theme parks and making memories to last a lifetime.

Abby is a huge fan of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, the Disney princesses and other Disney characters, so a trip to Disney World was the perfect gift for her. Sharing the trip with her grandmother, Peggy Henson, and great-grandparents, Ronald "Hoss" and Elizabeth Jones, all of Hoxie, made it even more special. Her mother, Brittany Henson, was unable to make the trip due to work obligations.

The group flew to Orlando on March 2, barely escaping the ice storm and extremely cold weather back home. "We enjoyed 70 and 80 degree temperatures while we were there," Henson said.

"Abby loved the flight," said Henson, adding that Abby has flown before but it was her first time to fly.

"Before we landed, the airline attendant announced to the passengers that Abby was receiving a Make-A-Wish trip and asked everyone to say 'We love you, Abby!'

"They were all so nice, the passengers and the crew," said Henson. "A lady who had been crocheting during the flight gave Abby a crocheted blanket, and a man we had never met before gave her $20 to buy Mickey Mouse ears."

In Orlando, they had their own villa in the Give Kids The World Village. "The people there were wonderful to us and all the other children who were there," Henson said. "All the little girls were called princess when they were spoken to, and there was an activity planned for the children every evening at the village.

"One of Abby's favorite places in the village was the Ice Cream Palace, where free ice cream is served from 7:30 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. every day."

They visited Sea World, Universal Studios and the Magic Kingdom and attended both a Christmas and a Halloween party. Abby met Mickey Mouse, Curious George, Sponge Bob, Mary Poppins, Cinderella, Princess Aurora and other characters familiar to children everywhere.

The village has a life-size game of Candy Land that Abby enjoyed, and she received a Candy Land game to bring home with her. She also got to create her own Magic Pillow (similar to Build-A-Bear).

"Sea World was her favorite place to visit," Henson said. "She enjoyed the rides at all the parks, but she loved the one at Sea World that sprays water on passengers during the ride. She thought it was funny when the water hit us."

When a child's wish is granted, it is a dream come true for them, but it is also a wonderful gift to their families. According to the Give Kids The World website, they are able to give children and their families the most precious gift of all-the gift of hope. Families enjoy a once in a lifetime opportunity to have fun, to relax and to spend the type of quality time together absent from their normal daily lives. GKTW exists solely to fulfill the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses and their families, providing them a memorable, magical experience that will live in their hearts for years to come. More than 3,500 devoted volunteers, countless compassionate corporate and individual heroes and dedicated staff members make the Give Kids The World Village possible.

Henson said she will never forget how kind, thoughtful and caring the people they met were to Abby and all of them during their trip. "They were wonderful and I want them to know how much we enjoyed and appreciated all they did for us," she said.

Born with dystrophic epidermolysis bulosa (EB), a rare skin condition, Abby has one of the most painful disabilities a person can have. Painful blisters form on her body when she is exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun or anything that rubs against her skin. The danger of the blisters becoming infected is a constant concern, so she has spent most of her young life indoors with bandages covering her raw skin.

Abby's wish was made possible by several Nettleton High School groups and clubs and Cornelius Lovelace of Jonesboro's Fitness Bootcamp Unlimited. Groups and clubs joining the school's EAST program in raising money for Abby's trip included: student council, Beta Club, National Honor Society, band, dance, science club and Students Who Care.

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