A WISH is a dream the heart makes.
That’s what Disney tells us.
For Amber McLeod, 3, who can’t talk, her parents thought her wish would be to meet her extended family rather than Disney characters.
“I think this is what she would’ve picked,” says her mom Brandi, adding the love Amber has received from her family members here means so much.
Last week, Amber spent seven days here meeting, and visiting with, her great-grandmother Rose McLeod, grandfather Bob McLeod and grandma Susie McLeod.
In addition, she also got to meet her great-aunt, who came to spend a couple of days here, and her great-uncle Lewis McLeod.
She came with her parents, Brandi and Collin McLeod, and older brothers Alex and Ryan on a trip paid for by Make-a-Wish Canada.
The Make-a-Wish staff were surprised the family wanted to travel from Kingston, Ontario to Terrace instead of going some place warm, and visit family instead of visiting Disney World, which is what many children wish for, says Brandi.
Without the help, the family couldn’t otherwise afford to visit.
Brandi had quit her job to take care of Amber so the family was living on Collin’s salary when the roof in their house fell in, the basement flooded, mould appeared, and the home had to be repaired.
The family has faced struggles along the way, and Amber shows them how to do it.
Amber was born three months early with a rare form of cerebral palsy that happens only once in every 8,000,000 births and she has seizures too, says Brandi.
Amber doesn’t walk, takes her meals through a feeding tube and through it all, she is a strong, determined fighter, who goes through life with a smile on her face, says Brandi.
Doctors couldn’t find a reason for Amber’s premature birth or cerebral palsy and said she would not live long.
“They told us four months was a reasonable life expectancy,” says Brandi.
But Amber will turn four-years-old in February, says Brandi.
“She’s a tough girl,” says Brandi, adding her brothers say she’s tougher than Spiderman and other superheroes.
One doctor told them Amber is a mystery to them.
Amber has survived more than one cardiac arrest, had renal failure, has endured five surgeries, and has another surgery coming up, says Brandi.
But Amber is relatively healthy – as healthy as she can be expected to be, Brandi says.
Even though doctors said Amber would never speak, she can say a few words and definitely lets you know what she wants, says Brandi.
Amber’s taught everyone a lot, mostly that the rest of us have nothing to complain about, says Brandi.
She has a positive effect on everyone around her. Her older brothers Alex, 7, and Ryan, 5, will stand up for someone being picked on at school as a result of their relationship with their sister.
“Everything she taught them will last all their lives,” says Brandi, adding they have had to grow up sooner than most.
They have seen paramedics rush into their house, throw everything aside, take Amber out and Brandi’s not able to tell them for sure that their little sister will be all right, Brandi explains.
They’re amazing, smart boys and know a lot of medical terms too, she adds.
Because of Amber, they got to come out to meet their great-grandma and grandparents too, she says.
Amber enjoyed the flight up here on the Dash 8 plane from Vancouver, giggling and responding to the movement of the propellers and laughing when they got off the plane.
But on a quiet rainy afternoon at great-grandma’s house, she slept soundly in her dad’s arms with family all around her.