By RONDA GREGORY
News & Journal Staff Writer
Little Mariah Glodowski got to meet her favorite princess – Ariel – at Disney World, where dreams really do come true…and to enjoy many other special entertainments during her week-long stay.
The blonde, blue-eyed, four-year-old got to visit the premier place of fantasy and fun with her mom Ashley Bernard, sister Jasmine and her dad Justin Glodowski courtesy of Make-A-Wish Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia and Allegiant.
Sarah Strodtbeck, Make-A-Wish regional assistant, reports that Mariah and her family are back at their home in Parkersburg enjoying all of their wonderful memories of their special trip.
“They had a great time, Ashley told me,” Strodtbeck stated. “They went to the beach, Disney World, of course, and Epcot.”
The family stayed at Give Kids The World Village, a nonprofit that houses and entertains children with serious medical issues and their families who travel to visit Central Florida attractions. The Village features a Christmas theme each week for the children.
“Santa came while Mariah was there,” Sarah reported. “Mariah just really enjoyed everything they did on their trip.”
Strodtbeck said the whole family appreciated it, too: “It was the first vacation the family has ever had together. They were very grateful. Her mother said it was a trip they never could have done on their own. It was just a great experience for all of them.”
Little Mariah is on a waiting list for a bowel transplant. Born 33 weeks premature with only 25 percent of her colon and a very small part of her intestine, causes her to lack the ability to absorb food.
Not only was her stay fantastic, but Mariah got a send-off fit for a princess, as she departed the North Central West Virginia Airport Aug. 5 with her family.
Strodtbeck said Mariah was not only excited about her Disney World destination, but was looking forward to the plane ride. “At the airport, she giggled all morning. She was just very excited.”
North Central Airport Director Rick Rock greeted Mariah and her family and escorted them to the departure celebration of refreshments and presents at check-in. Rock stated he and his airport crew were very pleased to help with Mariah’s wish.
“It was a great pleasure for our team to take a small part in making Mariah’s dream come true,” he said. “She is such a sweet young lady, and so strong. Our airport is passionate about bringing families together and offering opportunities to our community that were not available before.”
Rock explained that with the North Central WV Airport now taking on more flights, it has created more opportunities to both help others and to provide expanded service in general.
“The partnership that has been created between Make-A-Wish Foundation, Allegiant Air and, now, the North Central West Virginia Airport has certainly created opportunities that were not previously available to North Central West Virginia,” Rock stated. “The hospitality that we strive to provide every day goes hand in hand with the goals of the Make-A-Wish program. Since we began the flights to Florida, and now Myrtle Beach, we have witnessed, firsthand, dreams come true, most of which involves families spending their precious time with one another. This was certainly the case for Mariah and her family.”
Allegiant Public Relations Specialist Brandon Myers said he is happy to be part of a company that provides the travel for children like Mariah.
“Allegiant began its partnership with Make-A-Wish in 2012, and since then we have provided travel for more than 300 Wish kids and their families,” he explained. “Our partnership with Make-A-Wish gives us the opportunity to be a part of the communities we serve around the country. Allegiant is focused on bringing passengers to world-class travel destinations, and we’re pleased we can help Wish kids like Mariah travel to these destinations. Our flight crews, pilots, and flight attendants love being a part of the Wish experience and helping make Wish kids and their families’ trips special.”
Allegiant also sponsors Make-A-Wish events and sells snack packs on board, from which the proceeds go directly to Make-A-Wish.
Speaking about the overall benefit of having air service so close and accessible, Rock added, “Many people face challenges on a daily basis, and there are times it would be easier to just give up. We are happy to offer our community the ability to travel to family-oriented destinations that allow them to just relax and leave their worries at home, even if it’s just for a short while.”
Mariah and her family got to do just that – in a very big way … and she got to meet Ariel.
Make-A-Wish exists to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. To donate to the regional office in Morgantown, call (304) 292-5600.