DuBOIS — Four-year-old Bella Gordon and her family made countless special memories on their recent trip to Disney World in Orlando, Fla., where they could experience a magical trip thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Bella is the foster child of Todd and Valerie Blochberger, of Treasure Lake, DuBois, who are in the process of adopting her. They have three other children, Helena Kline, 14, Aiden Blochberger, 5, and Alyssa Blochberger, 4, who also went on the trip.
Bella, who is non-verbal, has congenital muscular dystrophy and some cognitive impairment, said Valerie.
“Bella was labeled failure to thrive and had a feeding tube placed to assist with her nutritional needs. She immediately began to gain weight and get back on track,” Valerie said. “She likes to be around people and watch what they’re doing. She enjoys playing with toys that she can smack or bang on. Bella loves Mickey Mouse clubhouse cartoons. She attends preschool through the intermediate unit where she also receives therapies.”
Valerie said she has known about Make-A-Wish after seeing its community events and fundraising efforts ever since she was a child.
“I didn’t know what to expect with the wish process,” Valerie said of her experience, but said the volunteers made everything easy and stress free.
“I expected the process to take quite some time, however, from start to finish it was only a few months,” she said.
The family chose Disney World for Bella’s wish because Mickey Mouse and the rest of the Disney characters are something Bella’s consistently focuses on, Valerie said.
The trip to Disney was nothing short of amazing.
“We stayed at Give Kids The World Village which is run with almost all volunteers,” Valerie said. “They make the trip so easy and treat your whole family with such respect. The staff at the Disney parks and Universal Studios were amazing as well. If they could help us in any way, they were more than accommodating.”
Valerie said that Bella enjoyed being able to ride the rides, especially the water rides and anything that was fast-paced.
“Meeting the characters was a great experience for her as well,” Valerie said.
Valerie and her family is really appreciative of the wish that was provided by Make-A-Wish. She plans to talk on the radio for this week’s annual Light Up A Child’s Life campaign being held through Friday.
“There are so many charities that people can donate money and time to, and I feel that, hands down, this is the one that needs the most attention,” Valerie said. “I hope in the future I am able to go back to Give Kids The World and volunteer there and maybe even volunteer with Make-A-Wish.”
Since granting its first official wish in April 1981, the Make-A-Wish Foundation has fulfilled more than 300,000 wishes — approximately one every 38 minutes — for children with life-threatening illnesses.
Make-A-Wish grants a wish, on average, every 35 minutes to a child with a life-threatening medical condition, according to its website. Wishes come in all shapes and sizes. Some are heartfelt or jaw-dropping –others funny or tear-jerkers.
The 24th Make-A-Wish Foundation’s annual Light Up A Child’s Life campaign began Monday and continues through Friday from 7 a.m.-4 p.m. at Sunny 106 studios in DuBois. Residents can help raise money to bring the magic of a wish to children who have been diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses.
The auction will be held from 3-4 p.m. Friday. Call 372-1065 to bid on an auction item or to make a donation.