For Kaitlyn Richardson, her wish to visit Disney World will come true thanks to Yukon High School’s Wish Week.
Wish Week was held in November and was used this year to help raise funds for 9-year-old Kaitlyn’s Make-A-Wish request.
Kaitlyn, is a second-grade student at Central Elementary School, and suffers from multiple heart defects as well as hydrocephalus.
She had her first open-heart surgery when she was 5 ½ weeks old. A second surgery followed at nine months.
The last surgery had complications, including a stroke that creates weakness on her left side that requires her to wear a brace for support.
Her mother, Kelly, said for quite some time after the second surgery, Kaitlyn was on a heart-lung bypass machine that allowed her heart to rest and heal. However, that created other issues.
In addition, doctors discovered that she had hydrocephalus, which is a cavity in the brain where fluid can build up.
She also suffers from seizures, as many as 60 per month.
“Every one of them is horrible,” Kelly Richardson said.
“She’s been doing well until last year with her heart issues, but the doctors started noticing disruptions in the blood flow. They tried to do a heart catheter, but it was unsuccessful,” Richardson said.
That could mean an additional surgery in the future.
Overall, however, Kaitlyn has been doing well
“She’s had developmental delays. Socially, none at all. … She can put a smile on your face if you are having a bad day. She doesn’t know a stranger. She will walk up to anyone and give them a hug. She loves life,” her mom said.
Tuesday, at the high school, Kaitlyin and her family, which includes her mom, Kelly; dad, Mark and big brother, Cody, helped Make-A-Wish Oklahoma accept a $10,000 check from the high school Student Council.
The money was raised during the school’s Wish Week activities.
The project was to benefit Kaitlyn’s wish to visit Disney World. It also will help other families who are in need of a wish come true, said Katie Massad, the community engagement coordinator for Make-A-Wish Oklahoma.
Sophomore Caralyne Conley, who is a member of the student council, said Make-A-Wish and Kaitlyn were a perfect match for Wish Week.
“We sponsor a Make-A-Wish child every year, and this year it is Kaitlyn. Her dream was to go to Disney World,” Conley said. “We got her her dream.”
The cost of the Make-A-Wish trip is about $7,500. Wish Week raised about $10,000.
To raise the money, the student council hosted events like bake sales, a fundraising walk and a carnival.
“It’s nice to give back to the community and raise money to help someone,” Conley said.
Kelly Richardson said the family has been overwhelmed by the generosity.
“We were shocked at first. It makes us feel very special that so many people love her,” she said.
Kaitlyn was excited at Tuesday’s event, giving everyone around her hugs.
“She is very excited,” Kaitlyn’s mom said.
Timing of the trip remains unclear. The family will stay at Disney’s Give Kids the World resort, which is booked through April. That means Kaitlyn’s trip will likely be in May or early June, or could be pushed back until the fall, Massad said.
Programs like Wish Week are successful because they have a single goal — to make wishes come true, Massad said.
“We find the perfect fit between the child and whomever is fundraising. It puts a face to our program,” she said.
Massad also said there are about 200 children on the waiting list in Oklahoma.
All of the funds raised in Oklahoma help Oklahoma children. The organization does not receive outside assistance.
“Every single donation counts,” she said.
To make a donation to Make-A-Wish Oklahoma, mail a donation to Make-A-Wish Oklahoma, 1900 NW Expressway, Suite 700, Oklahoma City, OK 73118 or visit https://wish.org/local-chapters.m.00000qawr49estevptpsb3hu4ld64.