DALLAS — Christian Martin wished upon a star to one day visit Disney.
Thanks to the Sunshine Foundation, a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit, his wish came true. Christian, 12, was able to take a trip to Orlando, Florida in August with his mother Jill, 32; older brother Anthony, 13; younger sister, Alexis, 11; and his grandmother Kathy Adams.
Among the parks they visited were Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld and Magic Kingdom Park at the Walt Disney World Resort. SeaWorld was Christian’s favorite.
“I got to see dolphins and penguins, real life penguins,” he said. “If not for the penguins, Magic Kingdom would have been my favorite.”
The Sunshine Foundation, which paid for the trip, is an organization that works to fulfill the requests of chronically ill, physically challenged or abused children between the ages 3 and 18. The organization has a nine-cottage Dream Village in Davenport, Florida where families can stay during trips to the area. According to the organization’s website, visits to the Orlando theme parks are “the (no.) 1 dream request every year.”
Christian was born with Best disease, which affects vision to the point where a person loses their central vision, but not peripheral vision.
Jill said both Christian and his brother Anthony were born with the disease.
“They would sit next to the TV and be really close and I would say, ‘Back up or you’ll go blind,’ and they said they couldn’t see it,” Jill said. “I took Anthony to the doctor and learned that he was legally blind and Christian’s is a bit worse than Anthony’s and it’ll get worse as they get older. They’ll lose their central vision, but will only be able to see out of their peripheral vision.”
After contacting the Sunshine Foundation about her son’s condition and being put on a three-year waiting list, Jill learned that Christian’s time had finally come.
“It was supposed to be a 17-hour drive, but it took us three days,” she said. “We stopped and they saw the different states we went through. Christian had an advantage because (Sunshine Foundation) paid for the expenses, so (we all) got to go to Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and he got to see all the signs.”
Christian admitted to being worried worried upon entering the state of Florida as Tropical Storm Erika was making its way up the coast.
“Quite frankly, as soon as we left (Florida) that tropical storm was coming,” Christian said. “It was a good thing we left at the time we did.”
When Christian is not traveling the east coast, he likes to ride his bike, swim in his pool and raise virtual dogs on his Nintendo DS.
With his adventure over, Christian has started seventh-grade and is attending cyber school through the Dallas School District.
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher