Editor’s Note: In December 2015, Zane Wagner and his family came to Give Kids The World Village for his sister Zoe’s wish trip. They recently returned to the Village and relived some of their magical memories. Today, Zane shares about his family’s experience.
When my sister Zoe was 12 years old, my family got some horrific news: Zoe was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma after discovering a lump on her shoulder.
She entered treatment and was soon battling the side effects of chemotherapy. I will never forget the moment with my mom and Zoe, sitting in the bathroom, when it was time to shave her head.
We knew about the Village through fundraising we’d done for Make-A-Wish, but Zoe was initially reluctant to request a wish. Her reason? It might take a wish away from another child.
But I knew she was hurting, so I referred her anyway. And in December 2014, we headed to sunny Florida for a week at Give Kids the World Village.
Seeing the vastness of the Village is breathtaking. We’d learned all about the Village before going, but neither the pictures nor stories could do it justice. To say we were blown away is a gross understatement.
From ice cream for breakfast, Zoe’s daily gift, the playground, the thousands of volunteers who help run the Village, the rental car … this experience is like no other. After everything we’d been through, a trip to the Village was truly what our family needed.
Our week there was about family, magic, relaxation, miracles, fun, and togetherness. Now, we are able to reflect on some of the hardest times we’ve gone through as a family, with many beautiful memories to overshadow the fear. Our favorite memory is when Mayor Clayton came to tuck Zoe in for bed and tucked me and my 24-year-old brother in as well. We still laugh about it every time we think about Zoe’s trip, which is almost daily.
Being an alumni family is such an honor. Having the opportunity to go back and be told “welcome home” at the front gate is so magical. It’s like we never left.
To see the updates that have occurred at Give Kids the World, and to hear about all the things yet to come, is so inspiring. To know that these amazing organizations that do so much good are still being supported brings me so much joy. Never stop giving, never stop believing, and “never underestimate the power of a wish,” because it works.
Almost three years later, Zoe is officially in remission! I am so proud of my little sister and so grateful for Make-A-Wish, Give Kids the World, and every single donor and volunteer who helps these amazing causes. From the bottom of my heart … thank you.
Zane is currently living in Kissimmee, FL. After graduating from Point Park University with a degree in musical theatre, he moved to Florida for the Disney College Program. Growing up, Zane and his sister enjoyed hosting and organizing events for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. In his free time, Zane likes to read, write, take photos, and go to Disney!