In the Meantime, Take a Moment to Get Inspired by Their Stories
ATLANTA (February 13, 2009) – In one week, 13 Atlanta-area families will walk the red carpet, board their own private plane, and then embark on the trip-of-a-lifetime to Walt Disney World. What makes these families so special? Just ask Bert Weiss, host of Q100’s The Bert Show and creator of Bert’s Big Adventure, who selected them for the seventh annual trip this year. The families all have a child age 5-12 with a chronic or terminal illness, have a proven financial need, have never visited Walt Disney World and, of course, live in The Bert Show listening area. Let us introduce you to some of this year’s inspirational families:
The Goss Family
Lara Goss noticed a strange bump in her two and a half-year-old daughter Madison’s abdomen when she was changing her diaper one day. It turned out to be a tumor on her liver that quickly grew to the size of a grapefruit and the doctors gave Maddy a 20% chance of living. She had Stage 4 Hepatoblastoma, a rare liver cancer that only 150 children in the country have. In her condition, she had a very small window of time to find a liver transplant, but miraculously, within three days of being put on the transplant list, one was found for her. In May 2007, Maddy received her new liver from a deceased donor and the cancer has not come back since. Five-year-old Maddy is most excited about meeting Ariel at Walt Disney World and seeing Cinderella’s castle.
The Robinson Family
Five-year-old Akaya was born with Down Syndrome and then was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia at 16 months. Still a baby, Akaya went through 9 months of chemo and her mother Tonjali says “you know what, through everything, death never once crossed my mind. I knew Akaya would make it through.” Today, Akaya is cancer-free and doing well, and when asked who her favorite princess is, she replied “myself.” In addition to Mickey Mouse, one of Akaya’s heroes is her 12-year-old brother Arnieas, who will be going on the trip as well.
The Stark Family
Will and Cheryl Stark adopted their first special needs child, Melody (17, Down Syndrome), 17 years ago, and realized that it was their true calling to care for children with similar needs, although Cheryl will joke that this was when she “went crazy.” They adopted five more special needs children in the next eight years: Natalie (16), Amber (14), John (14), Jacob (9), and Katie (9), all with illnesses ranging from nonverbal mental retardation to Cerebral Palsy to Down Syndrome. In addition, the Starks have three biological children, two of which are now special education teachers. All six adopted children and one their biological daughters (and her husband) will be going on the trip to Walt Disney World…a much-needed vacation for the largest family BBA has ever taken.
About Bert’s Big Adventure
Bert’s Big Adventure is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization designed to allow children with a chronic or terminal illness ages 5 to 12 years of age that prove financial need and live in The Bert Show radio listening area (WWWQ-FM/99.7), to experience a magical weekend with their families at Walt Disney World®. Through the Walt Disney World trip and additional events throughout the year, Bert’s Big Adventure simply takes these families away from the daily routine of stress and provides intimate time where, for a few short moments, their focus turns from their child’s illness(es) to having fun and enjoying these special experiences. Visit www.bertsbigadventure.org for more information.