Thanks to a generous radio personality, two Cherokee County children will take a trip next month that many their age dream of their entire childhood.
Madison Shipley, 5, daughter of Jessica Montour of Waleska, and Samin Badiei, 12, daughter of Jila Ali of Woodstock, both were selected for the 2010 Bert’s Big Adventure trip to Walt Disney World.
They are among the 13 children with serious medical conditions who with their families will depart on Feb. 18 for a five-day, all-expense paid trip to Orlando, Fla. The families will travel in a private jet and enjoy the perks of a VIP trip.
The nonprofit organization started in 2002 by All the Hits Q100 Atlanta disc jockey Bert Weiss annually gives children and their families a vacation they would never forget and otherwise couldn’t afford.
“We want them to have a trip of a lifetime,” said Amy Moosbrugger, program director for Bert’s Big Adventure.
Besides Samin and Madison, four other children from Cherokee County and their families have been selected for the trip in the past, she added.
Ms. Montour said Madison was excited when she learned she was selected.
“She’s constantly talking about all the characters,” she said of her daughter’s fascination with Disney.
Madison has spina bifida, a birth defect caused by the failure of a fetus’ spine to close properly, and hydrocephalus, a condition characterized by excessive fluid accumulation in the brain.
She attends occupational and speech therapy for 2 1/2 hours every Monday and physical therapy for an hour each Thursday.
She also has therapy at R.M. Moore Elementary School in Waleska, where she’s a kindergarten student.
Ms. Montour said Madison is beginning to realize she’s unable to do the same things other children her age enjoy. However, Ms. Montour said that makes her daughter more determined to succeed in regaining certain abilities.
Initially, Ms. Montour said doctors said Madison would never be able to walk or talk. Last year, Madison was able to begin walking, and she’s now able to talk.
Samin has epidermolysis bullosa, a rare genetic disorder that causes the skin to become fragile. The skin is so fragile it can be easily injured, causing painful blisters to form.
Ms. Ali said Samin also has growth problems and is unable to walk.
Natives of Iran, Ms. Ali and her family said doctors there were puzzled by Samin’s condition. When Samin was 3, the family immigrated to the United States. Doctors here were able to diagnose the condition, but informed the family there was no cure.
“We can’t cure it, but her life is a lot better,” Ms. Ali said.
Samin, a student at Woodstock Middle School, is looking forward to the trip.
Both moms said they hope the trip will give their daughters the opportunity to see other children with disabilities and understand they aren’t alone with dealing with their special needs.
“I want her to know she’s not the only one,” Ms. Montour said.