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Oct 15, 2009

Day One - Abby's Make A Wish Trip

By Brent

Day One is in the archives. We made the flight with no problems although hauling 7 people through airports is quite an adventure. We got our first taste of the VIP treatment that Make A Wish kids receive, getting to go to the front of the security line, boarding first and having someone waiting for us at the airport.

We are at the "Give Kids the World" Village now in a perfect cottage in the perfect location as the pics below show. Some of our life long best friends came from the Cocoa area (east coast by the Space Center) to visit us last night. We hope to see them several times while here. And, we are lining up several occasions to visit other friends who are either in the Disney area vacationing, or actually on a Make a Wish trip too.

On the one hand, it's kind of sad that this trip was brought to fruition because of a year of suffering by Abby, standing on death's door at least four times. On the other hand, we count our blessings, that God and some very gracious people have made this dream trip come true (a trip that we could not possibly afford otherwise). Some thanks go to... (and I know I'll forget someone, so please forgive me):

Make a Wish - for the countless special dreams they have made true for kids who have suffered more than they should

Tracy - for spending the last year volunteering at Make A Wish and making sure our trip was all planned out and taken care of

Lux Air - the wonderful gracious local company who donated the funds to Make A Wish for our trip. We have not met them personally yet, but we PLAN to... so if anyone out there from Lux is reading this, please email me. ( When we get back we want to come see you, bring you a photo album and give you a big hug (we're huggers, so you'll just have to deal with it! :)

Frank and Judy - my parents who do so many nice things for the kids and slipped them some "souvenir money" behind my back before we left!

Betty & Missy & Family - Michelle's family, for house sitting and taking care of things back home for us while we are gone.

Dodo & Mr Johnny - our wonderful elderly neighbors who watch over us and love our kids like their own. At 90 years old and terminal with lung cancer, Mr Johnny will still be out there killing the mushrooms that pop up in the yard, taking our trash cans to the curb, and picking up any trash that dares come into our yard or his (this is one of our "mowing ministry' families to; they have become surrogate great grandparents to our kids).

Wildwood - our incredible church family who love us and do so much to help us with our special needs for Abby so she can still be part of the church activities.

The Baumans - who never miss an opportunity to be kind to our family and love our kids.

Darron & Tracy - who have spent 20 years being unwavering best friends and have gone out of their way to do special things for us on this trip.

I know I missed someone I should have put on this list, never fails. Anyone who knows us, has no doubt that if we are anything, we are GRATEFUL people. They know we love them and are authentically grateful for each and every kindness and act of love that we have been blessed with.

Okay, here's Day One in pics (I wish I had my good camera but it was too much to bring, and I'm doing the photo work on my laptop, so I won't get to have as much fun making the pics come to life... but we'll try to put up some each day):

This is what we've been most used to this last year...

But now it's FUN TIME! Abby is on the plane,
and can't even hide a smile behind mask. She is so excited
to finally be going to Disney

Joe and Helen, meeting us at the airport. They have
been greeting kids for over 10 years for Make A Wish
and Give Kids the World.

This is our welcome sign outside our cottage...

... a blue and orange house that just had the kids amazed (and us too!)

This is our street, and we have this incredible fun
park right across the street. The kids couldn't wait a second
to get over there and check it out.

Pictures do this no justice. It is a huge playground
with all sorts of fun stuff for the kids.

I was wondering how we would haul everything
and Make A Wish thought of everything. They rented us
this fantastic huge van! Makes me wish we had one at home!

SpideyLandis on the tire swing in the playground.
We finally found a place where there is enough to do that
will actually wear him out and leave him tired.

Sami is having a blast. She is being so wonderful
with Abby and Landis... the best big sister they could ever ask for.

"Trains" take us everywhere in the village.
Just riding to dinner is FUN!

SpideyLandis gives Mom the thumbs up...
ride approved! He is having the time of his life.

Here's one of the ares where we eat dinner.
Everywhere you look, it's like this!

Abby and Sami ("Dad, it's HANNAH! Quit calling me Sami...") on
the carousel. All the rides, games and at the Village are free for
the families. Most of the families here (dozens) appear to be Make A Wish.

Giddy up chicken! SpidelyLandis tames the carousel poultry!

Abby just runs from ride to ride, toy to toy, fun to fun!
There is so much for her to do, she's sets a dizzying pace trying to
pack it all in. I don't think she realizes she has all week to enjoy it.

Well, that was amazing Day One, just a nibble actually. I could post 50 pictures of all they enjoyed JUST GETTING HERE and settling in!

Sami was astonished at "Disney World", overwhelmed at all there was to do and see. Then... we TRIED to explain to her that this was NOT Disney World yet. We unsuccessfully described the difference but could tell she has no comprehension of how big and wonderful Disney is going to be. Abby and Landis could care less... they are living in the moment, extracting every ounce of fun and wonder from each minute and each new sight (what a lesson we adults should learn from the eyes of babes...)!

As for Abby... she has one agenda at this point: meeting Jasmine and Mickey at Disney tomorrow. Should be a magnificent day. See you tomorrow morning....

~ Brent


Kathy said...

Brent, this is awesome!!!! Enjoy!!

Kathy :)

p.s. is this village just for make a wish children?

Alex and Sam said...

have a great time.... the kids look soooo happy. safe travels



Even the angels are smiling!

Jo Whitehurst said...

So, excited to see the family having such a wonderful time! Blessings!
I look forward to more photos!!

Erica said...

Amazing! Enjoy Disney!

Vic said...

What an awesome trip and to think, it's only day one! :) She deserves every ounce of happiness and goodness that comes her way! God Bless!

Kayce said...

Wonderful!!!!!! Enjoy all the smiles, laughter and ooohhs and ahhhhs!! God bless!

jldustan said...

We have been following your blog for a while, our 10 yr old also has AML. I cried when I saw your pictures from the village, you are staying in the exact same villa we did in May!! Enjoy your trip, you are in our prayers.


Mom to 9 Blessings! said...

Brent and Michelle - what a wonderful post to read!!!!

I'm thrilled for all of you!

So excited to see their complete joy and wonder!

Oh how we need to slow down and live in the moment more often!

Love to you all and prayers remain for a healthy time!

Anonymous said...

Oh my! I'm so happy for you all! You are at an amazing place--wish I could jump into the pictures with you.

Abby have fun meeting Jasmine and Mickey tomorrow!

Have a GREAT week together.


whenpigsfly said...

I have tears streaming down my face for Abby, and for you her family !What an indescribable blessing it has to be to see Abby running and playing in that "magical place" as if nothing had ever , or could ever again, slow her down. The wonderful way in which Make -A-Wish takes care of its family is beyond an adjective. The girls and I are just so excited for all of you to be able to share this adventure! Can't wait to see photos of Abby and Princesss Jasmine!!!!!!!!!!!!
Linda Rachel (wish her a Disney Happy birthday?? She turns 10 today!!) Leah, and Naomi

Thankfulmom said...

I hope you have a wonderful trip! Seeing your pictures of Give Kids the World brings back so many good memories. The volunteers make that place tick - they are amazing. Blessings on your family!


One Crazy Mommy said...

Glad Abby is having fun. Why does Sami want to be called Hannah? Just curious, both are pretty names. Best wishes at Disney, hope Abby has a blast!!

Vonda and John said...

The photos are beautiful. I pray for your trip to be healthy and happy! Many blessings!

Marielle said...

Love the pictures, so good to see how good God is and that Abby is able to make this trip.

Leslie said...

we just got back a few days ago...florida and disney rocked despite the heat.!!!

Wow this place looks amaazing you you'll deserve it!! ENJOY!

Michele Williams said...

Such a blessing you all have been provided. Such a great "ministry" Make A Wish.... You will remember those smiles for eternity! God bless you all.

Faith said...

Have fun on your trip! It's so wonderful to see Abby (and everyone else) so happy! Much love!

Sunday said...

Looks like you guys are having a great time! Make sure to take the boat ride at Downtown is so much fun! Praying you all are safe and sound and HAVING FUN!

Meade family adoption said...

I'm so glad you all are having a wonderful time. You all deserve every second of it... enjoy it to the max!!!! Sending you much love, Kami

Anonymous said...

THANKS BE TO GOD for the magical time these precious children are having!!!
I know it takes many people doing many things to prepare for a trip like this but to them all of the hours are paid in full by only one smile from a child !!!!! And that smile to a parent is worth everything it took to get there.
My prayer today is for every second of this day and all others to be healthy and happy for the RIGGS family!!!! God Bless you all, Ellen/GA

Julia said...

i'm in tears reading this! that place looks AWESOME and it's so cool to see Abby smiling and having fun!! what an amazing trip!!

Andrea said...

Oh my goodness! That brings back so many wonderful memories! ;o) My boys still talk about. We even stayed on that circle... do you just LOVE the Candy Land play ground right outside of your door?! ;o)

Prayers for fun and dreams come true! Can't wait to see more pics from your trip!

LaVon Baker said...

This is wonderful! I'm so happy that your family got to take this trip... memories forever. Looking forward to a week of happy pictures!

Rachel Boldman said...

I wish I still lived in Orlando still, so I could maybe meet you guys while you're on your trip! Looks like GKTW has changed a lot since I was last there. Ironically, I just moved to Southwest Missouri two months ago, which I think, is close to where you actually live?! Anyway... I am praying for a great trip for you guys! Your whole family is going to love the experience.

auntrene said...

Thank you for the wonderful post.. HOw fantastic to see your kiddos living in the moment and just having so much fun..
Pure JOy!!!!
Can you imagine when she does meet Jasmine... The smile will be amazing as always I am sure.
I never realized how great Make a Wish is... now I know.. I will be donating to them in the future..

Anonymous said...

I can't stop smiling! I'm SO very happy to see this!! I'm sure I'll be back a few more times just so I can smile some more!

Lafayette, LA

Kara Nicholson said...

What a great place to stay, these pics brought me to tears, so touching because you all deserve something as great as this, Make A Wish is such a great thing!

The Reyes Family said...

So glad everyone is having a blast!!!! enjoy your trip.... Love looking at all the phots

day by day said...

Oh, I can't think of anyone more deserving of such a fun trip, than your precious daughter!!!!

May she have the best time ever!!!!

Michelle said...

What a GREAT picture of Abby on the plane. And oh my goodness, the place you guys are staying looks AMAZING! We are so happy for you all. We are praying daily for your continued protection against germs!
Have fun! Thanks for blogging while on a vacation!
The Mann Family

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for making "your" trip a trip that we all can share with you. Seeing the pictures of Abby with such a wonderful and exciting smile touches my heart so much.

Many prayers have preceeded this trip for all of you and the prayers will continue for a week of a family just having the time of their life and making memories.

Yes... it would have been better to have gone to Disney under normal circumstances w/o Abby ever being sick. But God had a plan for this whole past year and still has His plan for the future. Part of His plan was for people like me to get to know and love your family.

Keep the pictures coming.

love and prayers
Ann Stegall
Wake Forest, NC

bobbiebailey said...

God is so, so, good!!!

What a wonderful first day! The Lord just blew you away!

The photos were great!!! As well as was your post!

Will be looking out for more posts!
I'd be as if I am "experiencing the
experience" with you! :)

Thank you Jesus for doing this for our precious little Abby and her equally precious family!!!

Prayers & blessings!

Are These Kids All Yours? said...

Blessings on your vacation!!!! How wonderful :) I pray for so many smiles- Abby deserves it as well as the rest of you too! Praying for continued health and loads and loads of fun!!!!

Shawna&Co. said...

WOW! I have never gotten to see first hand how Make-a-wish affects kids. How terrific they are able to give her a wish like this. Here is to praying for many more trips like this one. Except without the make-a-wish program or the cancer. God is good!

maddie/cadesmimi said...

Brent, I am so happy to hear that you and your family are at Disney World. What an experience for Abby. She will never forget it! I hope you all have a fantastic and fun-filled week. If ever anyone deserved it, your family does. Blessings, Kathy

Corn said...

How wonderful! Love the Make a Wish Foundation. You are right its unfortunate that that is what got you there, BUT you are making such special memories for Abby in the moment. Love that street you are on, so good to be a kid again. Enjoy, God Bless, and I pray for Abby everyday.

Rhonda said...

How awesome. I so loved seeing the pictures and what a terrific "make a wish" come true environment. LOVED the house and train and well, everything!

Debbie said...

Wow; I never realized they had a whole village like this. What a wonderful organization this is. I'm so thrilled to hear what they've done for Abby. Enjoy this trip and take lots of photos to share.

Lynnette Kraft said...

Oh Riggs Family - this post blessed my heart and made me remember. Anna had the same wish 5 years ago. I know what you mean about being so grateful yet wishing you hadn't had to go through all that you did to get to that fun place.

I remember Give Kids the World like it was yesterday. It was such a wonderful time away from real life.

Right after Anna died I didn't like to think about it because she died 10 days after we got home and I associated that trip with her death - but 5 years later I don't feel that way - I'm grateful for that gift.

I'm looking forward to going to look at the next couple of days of your trip. The pictures are just awesome and seeing the joy on all of your faces is just priceless.

So glad for Make-A-Wish.
Dancing Barefoot on Weathered Ground

kristin said...

I grew up in Orlando and spent many years serving and volunteering at give kids the world. It is such an amzing place and I have so many happy memories of being there and also collecting the stuffed animals that friends of outs would take to give to the kids they would meet at the airport. I actually think I know your greeters you had. I am so happy for your family. Enjoy this amazing time.

Anonymous said...

I understand perfectly how you would feel about all this excitement. I am pleased to say to you that I have been also to give kids the world village and the villa we stayed in is the one 2 doors down to the left of you house!! I hope you enjoyed it!! :)