His Wish Comes True


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Wishes do come true for Old Forge Elementary fourth-grade student Justin McDonnell, having recently traveled to Walt Disney World.

Born with Down Syndrome on Nov. 23, 2001, he developed very well, walking and talking by age two.

McDonnell's road to Disney has been lengthy due to the discovery of Leukemia at age 3 and a half.

"The people from Make-A-Wish came to see us when Justin was first diagnosed," Justin's mom Anne explained. "But his cancer was too severe. He was just so sick and we just wanted to focus on treating him. He stopped talking, got his treatments and tried to push through."

His education was also put on hold for four years, while receiving treatments at Janet Weis Children's Hospital in Danville. He began kindergarten at age 6 and has earned the nickname of "little mayor" in the elementary school.

During the summer, the Make-A-Wish Foundation again contacted the McDonnell family, offering Justin an opportunity to make his wish. When volunteers arrived at the McDonnell home, the youngster, who has limited vocal abilities, responded by drawing a picture of a castle. The family then filled out paperwork and waited, as it can take up to three months before the foundation grants a wish.

"He was overwhelmed," Anne said. "He was so excited. We were given six park passes from Make-A-Wish."

While in Florida, the McDonnell family visited all of the Disney theme parks and Universal Studios and Sea World.

"They treated him like a rock star," Anne said. "It was a trip for our whole family. We had six passes for five fun-filled days."

According to wish.org, the Make-A-Wish Foundation has enriched the lives of more than 250,000 children, around the world, through its wish-granting work since 1980.

"It will be five years off of chemotherapy Aug. 1," Anne added. "He's doing well and asks to go back to Disney everyday."

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