BELLVILLE — The Sharp family of Bellville, strong with Jonah, Kaitlyn, Myles and Lyla, want people to know they have much to celebrate, after a successful trip south to Orlando and Disney World.
Parents Amber and Brad Sharp, and family, were recently picked up in a limousine, transported to Columbus, and flown to Orlando, courtesy of the Make A Wish Foundation.
People met them at the airport, helped carry them to the village where they stayed, and aided them through six days of sampling rides at Disney World, seeing Sea World, visiting Cocoa Beach and Give Kids the World.
Brad’s parents accompanied them, but they had to leave behind their family dog, Ellie, and cats, Elmo and Zoe.
This could sound like a traditional story, told by lots of local people who’ve been off to see Disney World.
But this trip technically was for Jonah, whose doctor steered Amber and Brad to contact the Make A Wish Foundation.
The foundation paid for the Sharp family trip, and made arrangements for all the helpers.
Jonah and Kaitlyn are children with special needs. Kaitlyn uses a walker and Jonah has a wheelchair.
Brad Sharp said “yes, it was Jonah’s trip.” But all the family has been affected because Myles, for instance, can’t play as much with his brother.
Myles, 8, is the “big little brother,” said Sharp.
Jonah consults with a seizure doctor, said Amber. He has LGS, lennox gastaut syndrome, which causes types of epileptic seizures. A number of medications can be used, but the condition is hard to control, she said.
The seizures usually come daily, and can include staring, or a grand mal.
Amber said Jonah hasn’t had a grand mal seizure for several years.
The Sharp family’s days in Florida were filled with events and parties. The facilities the family found there were set up specifically for children with a variety of difficulties.
There was a “water accessible” wheelchair. Amber Sharp said the family normally uses a life jacket for Jonah.
He likes the water because he can “sit, splash and smile,” she said.
The carousel ride had turtle and snail figures, easier for a child in a wheelchair to use because they are lower to the ground, Amber said.
Jonah, who will turn 13 Feb. 27, weights 100 pounds, and it would have been hard to get him on a carousel horse, she said.
Brad Sharp said the family “had the time of its life.”
His parents were along to help, but had to pay for their airline tickets. At the airport, the youngest, Lyla, 22 months, independently wheeled her own suitcase.
During the day, Jonah and Kaitlyn, go to school at Butler.
Brother Myles accompanies Kaitlyn, who is 6. Jonah goes to school on a different schedule.
An aid at the school found ways to raise money to help support expenses of the trip, Amber said.
Jonah will now be an “alumni” of the Make A Wish Foundation trip, Amber said.
There is a “star place” at the village. Children who go there can sign a little gold star, and those get put in a box. Those stars disappear. When children return to the “star place” they’ll find that the stars are now on the ceiling. Kids who return as alumni can find the stars they’ve placed there, Amber said.
Because of Jonah’s condition, he sometimes uses a “shake vest” which aids performance of his lungs. One lung is smaller than the other, and because he is not very active he can have problems. He has had pneumonia and been treated in the hospital, Amber said.
When the Sharps arrived in Orlando they were given brochures which listed closest hospitals and pharmacies, Brad Sharp said.
Staff at Disney World were “very accommodating,” Amber said. They would refer to Jonah’s wheelchair as the “royal carriage or sleigh,” she said.
The family was “shepherded where we went,” said Sharp.
Brad Sharp works at Knox Community Hospital in Mount Vernon. His parents, Becky and Greg Sharp, accompanied the family.
They are active in the New Life Church here.
The people at Make A wish Foundation say they have tens of thousands of volunteers, donors and supporters who help them aid children diagnosed with life-threatening conditions. They grant a “wish” every 35 minutes, making it possible to do something that can be a “game-changer” for a child.
The rides had special gates,