LORTON, Va. - An 8-year-old girl from Virginia battling a chronic illness received an exciting surprise. Keely Thompson and her family are going on a surprise vacation thanks to an organization that works to make dreams come true.
There was a bit of nerves and excitement as everyone prepared for Keely’s arrival at Glory Days Grill in Lorton. The special little girl was invited to a dinner where she officially received the big news – she was going to Disney World!
The entertainment and vacation resort is literally a dream come true for the second grader and her little brother. She will finally get to meet her favorite princess Cinderella.
“It's just really, really huge,” said her mother Annie. “I just want them to have a break. I want Keely to have a normal couple of days – no thinking about doctors, no thinking about her braces.”
Keely was born with spina bifida and through these past eight years, she has undergone more than 30 surgeries.
“She has had several spine surgeries, several brain surgeries, several leg surgeries,” her mother said.
Along with her parents, her brother is always by Keely’s side.
“She is tough and resilient and a happy-go-lucky kid,” said Annie. “She is acting shy right now. She is not shy at all.”
Even though all of their extended family lives on the West Coast, due to the cost and difficulties of travel, Keely has only been on a plane once.
“More than physically demanding for us, it's kind of mentally demanding,” said Michael Thompson, Keely’s father. “It's really good for our family to get away and kind of take a break from it all.”
“This is for a family who has household income limitations that would not maybe otherwise afford to go to Disney,” said Kate Sample, president of the Sunshine Foundation.
She was happy to get the chance to provide this gift for the Thompsons.
“The Sunshine Foundation is actually the original wish-granting organization and when we were founded by a Philadelphia police officer, it was for children who have life-threatening or lifelong chronic conditions that didn't matter,” said Sample. “Other organizations came about and limited it to life-threatening, but we have always been there for children with lifelong chronic conditions as well. We are there to spread a little sunshine and give them that special dream or wish.”
Keely was on the Sunshine Foundation's waiting list for two years and it would have been longer, but when they learned that a local kid was on the list, the Poole Foundation in Fairfax teamed up with Glory Days Grill in Lorton to raise the extra money needed to make her dream come true.