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Old 09-12-2012, 01:28 AM   #1
lakinbum93
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Planning Kaston's Make-A-Wish to WDW Nov or Dec!!!

A little about why I am here with you...our 9 year old son, Kaston, received a visit from the Make-A-Wish volunteers a couple of weeks ago and his wish is to go to Disneyworld. So here we are, trying to figure it all out and plan what we can.

CURRENT PICTURE OF KASTON:


A little about us...my husband & I are high school sweethearts, started dating when we were 15 & 16 and have been together for 22 years (you do the math) and married for 15. We have a 13 yr old daughter, Korah, and a 9 yr old son, Kaston. He was born in November 2002 with complex Congenital Heart Defects (CHD), more specifically Tricuspid Atresia (TA) and Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome (HRHS). He's had 2 open-heart surgeries (the Glenn, age 6 mos. and the Fontan, age 22 mos.), 3 heart catheterizations (last one at age 4 to close his Fenestration), many weeks in the hospital, countless dr. visits, daily meds for his entire life, cardio visits at least every 6 mos., the usual stuff that heart kids go thru. He is currently being monitored by Holter monitor every 6 mos. because his heart rate has dropped quite a bit; his average running 50-60, dropping into the 20s at times. What does this mean? The scar tissue from the surgeries is intereferring with his natural pacemaker, therefore a mechanical pacemaker is in his future. Not sure when...could be after the next visit, could be years from now. It is a wait and see game, as most of his life has been. He has another cardio visit in Dallas (6 hrs from where we live) mid-October.

SECOND OPEN-HEART SURGERY AT 22 MOS. OLD:


We also homeschool. We were brought into the world of homeschool because of a really bad 2nd grade year health wise and it was recommended by his principal to be on a homebound program for 6 weeks. We loved it, so we decided to do it full time! We are now into our 2nd year and still are loving, although the 13 yr old will disagree occassionally! Both kids are in karate, they do indoor rock climbing in the fall & winter and wakeboard during the summer. As a family, we love the outdoors, camping, spending time at the lake, hiking, and watching the beautiful West Texas sunsets. Oh, and I help run the local chapter of Mended Little Hearts!

ONE OF KASTON'S FAVORITE ACTIVITIES!


So, here we are, about to embark on something very magical and I have no idea what I'm supposed to do! I am a planner by nature and I have SO. MANY. QUESTIONS! I hope you all can help me navigate this forum and plan what promises to be the best vacation we could possibly imagine for our son and our family! We are super duper excited needless to say!

He is most looking forward to seeing the Star Wars attractions, Disney Animal Kingdom and Sea World Aquatica. Since our kids are a little older, they aren't quite so much into all of the character dinners, although I think the ones at GKTW will be fun and sufficient. They are interested in trading pins (I need to know more about this), collecting smashed pennies and maybe getting character signatures, although they may be a bit too old? We are also trying to plan a day at a local wakeboard school called The Boarding School, ran by pro wakeboarder Shaun Murray. We have met him several times, emailed Kaston a few lines and gave him his riding jersey at a tournament when he was younger. I think MAW is trying to arrange this as well, but not for sure. Regardless, we will try to make a stop there during our visit. My husband and kids have never seen the ocean and for me it was only a quick day trip to Catalina Island in high school, so we would like to spend a day at the beach and Kaston wants to learn to surf.

We would like to fit in a schedule something like this, but am very unsure of it all. Of course, there's all the great activities that go on at GKTW that we would like to participate in also!
Day 1 Travel/GKTW village/stock kitchen
Day 2 Hollywood Studios / Epcot
Day 3 Air Tours / Sky Diving / Boggy Creek Boats
Day 4 Animal Kingdom / Magic Kingdom
Day 5 Kennedy Space Center / Atlantic Ocean
Day 6 Epcot / Magic Kingdom
Day 7 Shopping / Rest
Day 8 Universal Orlando
Day 9 Sea World / Aquatica
Day 10 Gulf of Mexico or Cocoa Beach?
Day 11 The Boarding School
Day 12 Travel

I know and fully realize this is a totally packed itinerary, but I tried to mix up the random activities with the theme park days somewhat. And I realize that we will not be able to see everything there is to see at every park, but am totally ok with that. I plan on figuring out exactly what Kaston wants to do at each park and go from there. Because our kids are a little older, I think there will be quite a bit of stuff we can skip.

To start off, my main concerns are:
#1 The dates we chose were the 1st or 2nd week in November or the 1st week in December. I am hoping these are good, low attendance times?
#2 We asked to extend the trip beyond what is normally provided (although I don't want to be greedy...it's just that my husband works shift work - 13 hr days, 4 on/4 off. So if he takes off 4, he gets 12 off! We should take advantage of that, right?) Is this normally frowned upon or is MAW accommodating to this type of request? Of course, we will cover any extra cost.
#3 Will I be able to make the flight reservations, or do they generally do that? I would like to utilize every moment and not have some funky flight times or unnecessary layovers
#4 It is my understanding that we will be staying at GKTW and that they provide passes to mulitple Central Florida attractions. Are we able to use those beyond our stay at GKTW since some of them are 2 week passes?
#5 Will it be too cold to do Aquatica, go wakeboarding or surf at the ocean?
#6 Is it OK to contact the Wish grantor and check the status?
#7 When do they generally do the send-off/reveal party? My husband has a crazy weird schedule, so this will need to be coordinated with his days off. And what is an appropriate number of people to invite...my son has already made his "list" and has over 40 families on there!
#8 I really, REALLY need to tie down some dates ASAP, as my parents want to be here for his party, but are trying to plan their winter pilgramage to Phoenix! How do I go about kindly asking for updates on the progress of tying down a date?

As far as the details of the trip...oh boy do I have questions, but am learning things as I go, so I won't bombard y'all with more just yet! Thanks for letting me share our story and am looking forward to "meeting" more heart families and MAW families here!
Jamie

ONE OF MY FAVORITE PICS OF HIM


KASTON AND KORAH AT CHRISTMAS...

Last edited by lakinbum93; 09-12-2012 at 09:58 PM.
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Old 09-14-2012, 12:30 PM   #2
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I am so glad to hear that Kaston will be receiving a wish! I am a fellow heart mom too. My son Trevor has pulmonary atresia. We haven't gone on our wish trip yet so I can't answer all your questions

As for extending your trip it depends on your chapter. I asked about it and ours said no. I would have extended if we had been able too.

Our chapter said we could ask for either a red eye flight or an early morning flight on the way to Orlando and we could request either an early morning or an evening flight on the way out and they would do the best they can to accommodate us. We are on the west coast so I am leaning toward a red eye. Our chapter sets up all the travel arrangements and we just show up! I am not sure how long beforehand they will give us flight info or dates. Trevor wants to be a Jedi during Star Wars Weekend so we have to wait for those dates to be published.

I don't think it would hurt to call and ask when they would have dates. Explain that your husband needs to know to take time off of work. I know we let our chapter know that the earlier we had dates the better so my husband can request the time off of work. But then again we will not hear anything until Jan or Feb when they release the dates for SWW.

We were told the send off party would be about 2 weeks before we leave. They will coordinate with us for the dates.

We are in the waiting game too. Trev needs a pulmonary valve and conduit (He currently does not have any). So each appointment is filled with anxiety... Surgery now or later.

Looking forward to hearing about your planning and your trip! I hope you get the dates you want and you here from them soon!

Jackie
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Old 09-14-2012, 12:48 PM   #3
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Welcome, welcome! Kaston is a cutie - oh wait, I'm not supposed to say that am I? He's HANDSOME and very MATURE looking. We just received our dates a couple of weeks ago and will be traveling in February - it coincides with a winter break the boys have, so that's why we planned that.
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Old 09-14-2012, 12:54 PM   #4
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I have TOTALLY seen that pic of Kaston on his wakeboard before! Was it in a MLH newsletter?? He is so handsome!!

Oy. Scar tissue. So not our friend, either!

Love your itinerary! I hope your chapter lets you extend. It really depends. For instance, we want to extend but were told we would have no problem adding on to the beginning of our week but at the end is the week of Thanksgiving. They are iffy on that. I'm still not sure why b/c the flight prices (that WE looked at) were the same, but I'm sure they have their reasons.

I believe they will take care of the flight arrangements- which is hard to wait on b/c I'm used to booking as soon as I know my plans to save $$. My chapter is only just now booking October flights so we won't know if we can extend/flight times until she's done with them. I'm in the mindset that we are extending as I can just cancel things if we don't get to.

You are going to have SO much fun!! I am catching myself wishing we would have waited until E was older so he could really dictate what he wants and remember it better. I just let fear take over- what if something happens to one of us if we wait? I guess you guys know how that is. You are just cruising merrily along and then the fear that God will decide it's your child's time grips your heart like a vice. There's no reason I should fear from a health standpoint. His last check up was great. But, you know...
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Old 09-14-2012, 03:07 PM   #5
lakinbum93
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Yes, some of you may have seen a couple of these pics if you're familiar with MLH (if not, you have GOT to! check out www.mendedlittlehearts.org) The one of him wakeboarding was on the national Mended Little Hearts website for a while and he's on the marquee? (the scrolling of the pictures) now on the main page. Just awesome! I just emailed them the pics when they sent a request out for pics for the new site and sure enough, they've used BOTH of them! Too funny!

Thanks for all the insight and answers to my questions! It's always great to meet other heart moms out there! Looking forward to traveling this MAW thing with you all! Maybe we will be able to meet each other during our stays (if we ever figure out our date!)
Jamie
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Old 09-15-2012, 09:50 AM   #6
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Hi ! Another heart mom here.

We were able to extend our trip by 5 days .. which we took full advantage of. Some chapters don't allow .. hopefully yours does !

They booked our flights for us. We had an 8 am flight out and a 9 pm (which got delayed by 1 1/2 hours back home) I would have rather had an earlier flight back home.

The weather that time a year is tricky. We've been there and it was 75 one day and 45 the next .. so it just depends !

We didn't get a send off party .. the granters just came to our house and gave us a cake and our stuff .. then one of them met us at the airport to see us off .. but that was about it. So I guess thats a chapter to chapter thing as well.

Can't wait to hear about your plans .. they look and sound amazing !!
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Old 09-14-2012, 01:09 PM   #7
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Welcome! We are going on my daughter's MAW trip the second week in November. Our MAW chapter did allow us to extend our trip, so we will be moving to Carribean Beach Resort after our time is up at GKTW. You will receive 3 day park hopper passes to Disney, 2 day passes to Universal, and 1 day pass to SeaWorld. All of the tickets are good for 2 weeks before they expire. You can use them after you leave GKTW. GKTW also has passes for LegoLand, Bush Gardens, Gatorland, Air Tours, Boggy Creek Boats, etc but you can only get these tickets for the days you will be at GKTW.

I have emailed our MAW coordinator a couple of times about questions. They are booking our flights, but I requested an early flight to Disney and a late flight back home if at all possible.

Happy Planning!
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Old 09-15-2012, 01:39 PM   #8
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I made some comments below in PINK.

Have a BLAST!! We are so glad you are here!

[QUOTE=lakinbum93;46129905]

We would like to fit in a schedule something like this, but am very unsure of it all. Of course, there's all the great activities that go on at GKTW that we would like to participate in also!
Day 1 Travel/GKTW village/stock kitchen
Day 2 Hollywood Studios / Epcot
Day 3 Air Tours / Sky Diving / Boggy Creek Boats
Day 4 Animal Kingdom / Magic Kingdom
Day 5 Kennedy Space Center / Atlantic Ocean
Day 6 Epcot / Magic Kingdom
Day 7 Shopping / Rest
Day 8 Universal Orlando
Day 9 Sea World / Aquatica
Day 10 Gulf of Mexico or Cocoa Beach?
Day 11 The Boarding School
Day 12 Travel

I know and fully realize this is a totally packed itinerary, but I tried to mix up the random activities with the theme park days somewhat. And I realize that we will not be able to see everything there is to see at every park, but am totally ok with that. I plan on figuring out exactly what Kaston wants to do at each park and go from there. Because our kids are a little older, I think there will be quite a bit of stuff we can skip.

To start off, my main concerns are:
#1 The dates we chose were the 1st or 2nd week in November or the 1st week in December. I am hoping these are good, low attendance times?
November 8th starts "Jersey Week" when the schools in New Jersey get a week off - and the parks are busy! It is also the Wine and Dine half marathon weekend, which will bring in some crowds, too. Otherwise those weeks are great! And you will have the wish stuff and won't really wait in many lines.

#2 We asked to extend the trip beyond what is normally provided (although I don't want to be greedy...it's just that my husband works shift work - 13 hr days, 4 on/4 off. So if he takes off 4, he gets 12 off! We should take advantage of that, right?) Is this normally frowned upon or is MAW accommodating to this type of request? Of course, we will cover any extra cost. This is done a LOT! And will really make your trip so much more enjoyable! Lots of rest days to enjoy GKTW!


#3 Will I be able to make the flight reservations, or do they generally do that? I would like to utilize every moment and not have some funky flight times or unnecessary layovers MAW usually takes care of the flights - but they do everything they can (using the flyer miles, usually) to make it a smooth flight for you!


#4 It is my understanding that we will be staying at GKTW and that they provide passes to mulitple Central Florida attractions. Are we able to use those beyond our stay at GKTW since some of them are 2 week passes?

YES! You get 3 days at Disney, 2 at Universal and 1 at Sea World - and they also have tickets to a lot of other attractions, too - if you have time for them! Gatorland, etc...

#5 Will it be too cold to do Aquatica, go wakeboarding or surf at the ocean? Totally depends on the weather...and how cold can he get?


#6 Is it OK to contact the Wish grantor and check the status?
Yes!

#7 When do they generally do the send-off/reveal party? My husband has a crazy weird schedule, so this will need to be coordinated with his days off. And what is an appropriate number of people to invite...my son has already made his "list" and has over 40 families on there!
Our chapter doesn't do a reveal party - so check with your chapter on this. They use the money for a special ticket or something for the wish child.


#8 I really, REALLY need to tie down some dates ASAP, as my parents want to be here for his party, but are trying to plan their winter pilgramage to Phoenix! How do I go about kindly asking for updates on the progress of tying down a date? I think just kindly ask! Let them know why you need to know - and I am sure they will understand!
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Old 09-26-2012, 10:45 AM   #9
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Thanks everyone for all the advice! I messaged the wish grantor and she said they are still waiting for the paperwork back from his cardiologist. So I called his office, was transferred to social work and left a message. Still no word! This is driving me CrAzY! I feel like since everything's dragging, that we will not get our requested dates.

I have just had to stop thinking about it and talking about it with the kids and carry on until there is something to get excited about!

And it's great to see all the heart moms on here too! We are sort of veterans in the CHD world, at the ripe old age of almost 10...and I also help run our local chapter of Mended Little Hearts in Amarillo, TX, so I consider myself pretty resourceful if anyone has questions with CHD related issues. Please feel free to message me any time and if I don't know, I bet I know someone who does!

Heart hugs and blessings to you all!
Jamie
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Old 09-27-2012, 01:03 AM   #10
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I hope you guys get an answer soon so you can get your requested dates! Waiting is the hardest part! Trev wants to do Star Wars Weekend so we will not get dates until the dates for Star Wars Weekend is posted, which probably won't happen until after the first of the year!

Jackie
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Old 09-29-2012, 02:08 PM   #11
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Update...

So, apparently Kaston's cardiologist is out of the country doing mission work in some 3rd world country! He won't be back until the end of next week...so we still wait for the paperwork to go through!

Talked to MAW to see if we could just get the pediatrician to approve it, but they prefer the specialist...which is understandable. I also asked about extending out trip a few days and she said it depends on the cost difference because some days are cheaper than others to fly. She said that lots of families have done that within our chapter but she personally has never done it. SO...I guess once we get the approval, then we can hammer out the actual dates and flights. She mentioned maybe them paying for the flight there and us paying for the flight back. Not sure about that though. Seems like it would be super expensive on top of extending. I just told her that my husband will have 12 days off regardless if we are in FL or at home, so we would rather spend them there! She also looked at GKTW and the dates we requested are pretty available and not many reservations have been made, so she feels we will be able to get whatever dates we want. And that they provide 6 nights, 7 days at GKTW.

So, we will just wait a couple more weeks. She said once they get the paperwork she will book it very quickly, so we should hopefully know something very soon!
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Old 09-29-2012, 05:07 PM   #12
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Hope you guys have a brilliant trip
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Old 11-18-2012, 10:52 AM   #13
lakinbum93
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We had Kaston's surprise 10th birthday party/MAW send-off trip last night! He was so surprised and lots of people showed up! It turned out to be a great party, and he was presented with a MAW bag o goodies...and our trip info packet.

We leave a week from tomorrow! I just can't believe it's already here. I do have a couple of questions however.
#1 I noticed that orientation is at 7:00 pm. Our flight doesn't even get there until 9:30. Will they do an orientation with us when we get there or will we need to wait until the next day?
#2 Does everyone wear their MAW shirts on the flight there, or does just the Wish kid? Which is the best parks to wear our shirts? Do it as a family or just the wish kid?

I'm sure I'll have more questions! And I would love to know who all will be there when we are! I think I'm going to bring pins and postcards from our city to give to the other kids we meet. Anyone want to join me? We are already collecting postcards from across the country for US History (we homeschool) and thought it might be nice to trade with some folks at GKTW too! Let me know if anyone is interested!
So much to do....
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Old 11-18-2012, 04:40 PM   #14
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Yay for the party Glad you had a great time. Hope he had a wonderful birthday.
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Old 11-21-2012, 10:20 PM   #15
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We hope your family has a wonderful Thanksgiving!
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