When she was just 2 years old, Brenna Kuk was diagnosed with Rett syndrome — a neurological disorder that affects a child’s ability to, among other things, speak, walk and eat.
It’s made Brenna feel excluded at times, something that no parents want for their child.
So, when the Make-A-Wish Foundation entered the picture and granted the family one of its famous wishes, the decision about where to take a trip was relatively easy to make.
“We really wanted to do Disney World because we figured she would be able to be included there,” said Nicole Hrabanek, who is Brenna’s mother. “At the fairs in Madison or carnivals here at the mall, she’s not able to ride those rides because they’re not handicapped accessible.”
Nicole and Brenna’s father, Scott Kuk, helped Brenna have an experience of a lifetime, in March — thanks to the Make-A-Wish foundation. The three of them, along with their son, Cooper, and other family members made the trip to Orlando.
While in Florida, they stayed at what’s known as the Give Kids the World Resort. The resort serves more than 200 different organizations, but Make-A-Wish is their biggest.
“You have to be a wish kid to stay there,” Hrabanek said.
Each family gets their own villa, so they were able to stay in two-bedroom, two- bathroom suite that was all handicap accessible.
Every morning and night, the resort had themed activities, like a Halloween party, Christmas party and a talent show. A majority of those who staff the resort are volunteers.
“They have volunteers waiting to carry your trays in the cafeteria so you don’t have to push strollers and carry the trays at the same time,” Hrabanek said.
The resort itself has rides that are handicap accessible so Brenna didn’t have to get out of her stroller.
“You almost need two days at Give Kids the World,” Hrabanek said. “They have a handicap accessible playground, and the world’s largest Candyland game.”
But the Northeast Nebraskans also were able to go to the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom parks at Disney World as well as SeaWorld.
At the Magic Kingdom, Brenna rode a roller coaster for the first time.
“Brenna was able to meet Winnie the Pooh and Tigger,” Hrabanek said. “We just rode a bunch of rides and watched the fireworks.”
They went on an open-air safari at Animal Kingdom and ended up getting stuck because of the giraffes taking their time to cross the road.
At SeaWorld they fed sharks, stingrays and sea lions.
“Brenna will be 10 in August and this is the first time she’s laughed until she’s cried,” Hrabanek said. “She’s happy all the time, but that’s the first time she’s laughed that hard.”
Prior to their Florida trip, Make-A-Wish throws the family a gifting party where wish granters come and share gifts and food.
“We had two wish granters come — one was from Norfolk and the other was Neligh,” Hrabanek said. “They’re just volunteers who meet with the family and we told them our top three wishes.”
Make-A-Wish then reviews everything and decides what wish they will grant the family.
“Make-A-Wish just went over and beyond to make all of us feel special,” Hrabanek said. “I don’t think Brenna could have been any happier. She wore a smile from sun up to sun down.”