I love Walt Disney World. LOVE. IT. Sarah Kate also loves it, and I’m hoping that Nathan will, as well. Walt Disney World is touted as the place “Where Dreams Come True”, and in so many ways it really is just that. Although the list of magical experiences to be had at Disney is endless, one area that I’ve really grown to appreciate is how disability-friendly Disney is. For a parent who lives in the special needs world, that is a dream come true.
For the past three years, I’ve gone to WDW for marathon weekend, and I’ve completed a number of other races there. Two years ago, I ran the Princess Half Marathon and Sarah Kate completed a kids race the same weekend. Although I opted not to run it again this year, I have a number of friends running so I decided to come down for the weekend with the kids. I assumed Sarah Kate would want to try the kids race again, as they give cute medals to the finishers and she’s always shown an interest in running, but when I brought it up she said no, and after several conversations about it I gave up and figured she really wasn’t interested.
We arrived late Thursday night and had a great park day on Friday. This morning, we were in the car on our way to eat breakfast with our friends who ran the 5k this morning (two of whom were her young friends, 9 yo E and 5 yo G, with whom we’ve been spending time this weekend at the House of Mouse). Both E and G got up early to do the 5K, while Sarah Kate, Nathan, and I slept in. We were talking about the weekend, and Disney, when from the backseat I heard her small, now somber, voice say, “Momma, I have a dream that I know is never going to come true.”
My heart sank and I felt tears trying to well up in my eyes. Several possibilities flashed through my mind of all of the things that cerebral palsy may prevent her from doing, or at least doing well. I felt a little sick to my stomach. I have always known that there would come a day when she would fully appreciate her limitations, but I didn’t want that day to come now, and I certainly didn’t want the realization to be brought on by, of all things, a visit to Walt Disney World. I braced myself for the worst, took a deep breath, and asked her to tell me what her dream was – the dream she was sure would never come true.
“Momma, I’ve had this dream for a long time. (sigh) I dream that I could spin so fast that I would turn into a Sarah Kate sized tornado.”
In an equally somber voice, I replied, “You’re probably right, Baby. That dream probably won’t come true.” And I was reminded once again that Sarah Kate is just a typical kid who happens to have cerebral palsy. And I breathed a great sigh of relief that Walt Disney World is still the Happiest Place on Earth.