Dear Friend of The Dream Factory,
My name is Tara and the little girl pictured here is my beautiful daughter Mackenzie. For the past three years Mackenzie has been bravely battling a very rare disease called Batten Disease. Mackenzie is only 1 of approximately 12 known children in Canada diagnosed with this disease. Never heard of Batten disease? You’re not alone - neither had we. This is why I would like to share our story and tell you a little bit about why The Dream Factory means so much to our family.
A priceless princess makeover and dream come true.
On April 20, 2008, Mackenzie was born a beautiful, healthy baby girl. Our family was complete. For the first three years of her life, Mackenzie was a fun-loving, active little girl who had endless energy, but at the age of three we noticed things started to change. Mackenzie's speech wasn't developing as well as others her age, and she was constantly falling down and getting hurt. At three and a half Mackenzie started to have multiple seizures a day. Something was happening to our daughter and we had no idea what it was. We were referred to a Genetic doctor who took some routine blood tests.
On May 16, 2012, our lives changed forever. On this day, at the age of four, our sweet little girl, Mackenzie, was diagnosed with Late Infantile Batten Disease. This is a parent's worst nightmare. Children with Batten Disease suffer from loss of muscle coordination (ataxia), seizures, progressive mental deterioration, and blindness. This disease holds no mercy on these children, as it progresses rapidly and typically ends in death between the age of 8 and 12 years old. Currently there is no known treatment or cure for Batten Disease.
To hear that your seemingly healthy, beautiful daughter is going to become blind and bedridden by the age of six is absolutely devastating. All of the hopes and dreams we had for our daughter were being taken away and there was nothing we could do about it.
Soon after Mackenzie's diagnosis, a family member referred us to The Dream Factory. We met with Grace Thomson, executive director of The Dream Factory, and spoke with her about Mackenzie's dream. As a family, we were lucky enough to have previously travelled to Disney World in Florida. While we were there, we had driven to the coast and the kids had seen all the cruise ships docked at Port Canaveral. It was then that we promised them that one day we would go on a Disney Cruise. This is how the decision was made that Mackenzie would be granted her dream to board the Disney Fantasy Cruise Ship docked in Port Canaveral.
With great anticipation, the time finally arrived for Mackenzie’s Dream Trip. Although she was becoming weaker in her legs, Mackenzie was still able to stand with our assistance, and she still had her vision so she was able to take in all of the wonderful sights on board the ship. Mackenzie loved meeting all of the Disney characters, especially all of the princesses! One of the highlights of our trip was relaxing on 7-mile beach in Grand Cayman Island. Mackenzie loved soaking up the sun and feeling the ocean hit her toes. It was wonderful to see her smiling so much and, although she could not verbalize her feelings to us, it was obvious to us how happy she was.
For seven nights, we left our worries at home and concentrated on just being together as a family. This Dream Trip was not only an incredibly special time for our family, it also gave our extended family a chance to make some really important memories with Mackenzie. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins came along (at their own expense) and really made Mackenzie's Dream Trip a very special one-of-a-kind adventure.
It has been three years since Mackenzie's diagnosis. She has lost her vision, as well as her ability to walk, talk, sit, and eat by mouth. Still, our sweet little girl continues to smile and touch so many lives around her.
As the days, weeks, months and years pass, this disease continues to steal so much from us. Eventually it will steal our daughter. However, it will never be able to steal the beautiful memories we are able to make along the way.
We often reminisce about Mackenzie’s Dream Trip and the time we spent aboard the Disney Cruise. I know we will always look back and remember our "trip of a lifetime.” This is why our family is so thankful for wonderful generous people like you. It is not just a trip you are helping to fund when you make a donation to The Dream Factory - you are helping to build memories for some very special kids and their families. You are making the lives of these children and their families a little bit brighter when their world seems so very dark.
Thank you for helping to make our daughter’s dream come true.
With love and hope,
Follow our journey: www.mackenzieshope.com