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Wish Comes True

Published on December 4, 2012 under Experiences

High Hopes sends young girl to Disney
By BENJAMIN C. KLEIN
bklein@citizen.com

ALTON — Sometimes for a little girl to feel like a princess she has to meet other princesses, and that is just what six-year old Alyssa Ball got to do last week at Disney World courtesy of the High Hopes Foundation, who specializes in granting wishes to New Hampshire children with chronic or severe illnesses.

Alyssa, who has cerebral palsy and lives in Alton Bay with her family, got to spend six days and seven nights in Florida with her parents and grandparents while having her wish of meeting Disney princesses fulfilled.

The trip had a very important impact on Alyssa, her father Michael said, explaining that prior to the trip Alyssa sometimes fought against using her walker or crutches, which she needs to walk, but after the trip she became much more eager to use them.

Michael said that Alyssa, who attends public school, was conscious that her crutches and walker made her different from the other kids, hence her hesitance to use them. However, after going to Florida and staying at the Give Kids the World Hotel, a hotel that specializes in housing children and families who are being granted a wish just like her, Alyssa was surrounded by people who also needed assistances getting around and became more comfortable with her own situation.

Michael said the trip, which ended last Thursday, was “fantastic, it was really special. My daughter met the characters and (Disney staff) moved us to the front of the line and then when we went in they shut the door so she could have uninterrupted time with the Disney characters and take individual pictures and group pictures with them.”

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Michael said that the trip was in large part due to High Hopes Foundation Executive Director Nicole Martini, who he called, “Our go-to girl.”

Martini said it was gratifying to know that the trip had such a positive effect on Alyssa.

“The experience was fantastic for Alyssa, she got to see children just like her. It was very uplifting for her and she didn’t feel alone anymore. Kids who can do what she can’t do constantly surround her, but (in Florida) kids surrounded her with the same type of problems as her. Her mom said it really helped to show her that she is not alone and that it helped encourage her to use her walking sticks more when before she would sometimes refuse to use them,” Martini said.
Michael said his daughter is like a “ball of fun, she’s kind of like a diva.”

“She loves being the center of attention. She likes dancing and doing tricks, summersaults and stuff like that on the floor,” said Michael. “She’s very, very bright, probably one of the top kids in her class academically.”

Despite her condition, Michael said Alyssa has a “very positive outlook on life but can get discouraged. Not being 100 percent involved like the other kids during gym and stuff like that. Overall I don’t think any of that effects her outlook.”

Michael said that Alyssa was born premature, and spent three and half months in the Natal Intensive Care Unit after being born for various reasons. However the only long-term effect was cerebral palsy, of which she has a type referred to as spastic dysplasia.

“Her cerebral palsy affects her bottom half mostly. She can walk but does need assistance with a walker or crutches. She does have to be in braces, if she gets excited her muscles really stiffen up. She does require a lot of physical therapy, and sees doctors all the time. She does have a little bit of fine motor control issues in her hands, and she can get tired with any physical activity,” Michael explained.

Michael further elaborated that High Hopes paid for almost the entire trip, and that the family only had to spend money out of pocket for plane tickets for Alyssa’s grandparents. Michael called High Hopes, “really responsive,” and said that Martini went out of her way to buy Alyssa a princess dress for the trip.

“They are pretty spectacular,” Michael said of High Hopes, “the only thing is, for instance the Make-a-Wish foundation gets much more publicity, this organization does not get the same recognition they deserve.”

High Hopes Foundation of New Hampshire has been helping children in New Hampshire for 30 years. To learn more about High Hopes, visit their website at www.highhopesfoundation.org, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/highhopesnh or call them at (603) 429-1010.

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