AN Ancrum girl is preparing for the holiday of a lifetime to Florida, writes Kenny Paterson.
Six-year-old Maia Russell suffers from a rare chromosome disorder and has severe learning difficulties.
But along with 10-year-old sister Erin and parents June and Steven, Maia, who uses a wheelchair, is jetting off to the United States to visit Disney World this Wednesday, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation UK.
June said: “Maia has suffered a lot of health problems.
“She has been keeping better lately but it was her doctor who put Maia’s name forward for Make-A-Wish.
“We did not think we would be selected until it was confirmed two or three months ago. It is going to be a fantastic holiday and Maia is really excited about it.
“She will really enjoy swimming with dolphins.”
Maia also receives support from Borders Additional Needs Group (BANG), which both June and Steven have raised money for, notably over £1,000 by running the Great North Run in September.
Steven said: “I carried Maia over the finish line at the end of the Great North Run which was filmed by local TV camera crews.
“I think Maia will be one of the first kids from the Borders to benefit from a Make-A-Wish holiday.
“Maia loves animals so will really enjoy the trip.”
Maia’s holiday mirrors the first ever dream granted by Make-A-Wish in 1986, when a Liverpool boy meet his favourite Disney characters in Florida.
Since then, the charity estimates it has supported more than 8,100 wishes in the UK for children and young people aged three to 17 who are fighting life-threatening conditions.
The charity estimates there are 20,000 kids battling such conditions in the UK.
Other wishes which have been granted include flying from a US aircraft carrier, being a model for a day and meeting favourite pop, film and sports stars.
A spokesperson for Make-A-Wish said: “At a human level, we believe few things can be more important, or more deserving, than giving a seriously ill child the chance to have their wish come true, with all the hope, expectation and happiness that brings.
“This year alone 1,400 children will turn to us to have their special wish granted.”
For more information about Make-A-Wish, visit www.make-a-wish.org.uk and for more details on BANG, go to www.bordersadditionalneeds.org.