For eight Ukrainian children, dreams became reality on Oct. 12 as they entered Main Street U.S.A. at Magic Kingdom Park.
The children, ages 9 to 20, were born with birth defects as a result of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. They spent the past couple of weeks in Central Florida meeting with physicians, receiving occupational therapy, and getting fitted with new upper extremity prosthetic devices. The group concluded their journey with a special trip to the place “where dreams come true.”
As part of “The Year of a Million Dreams,” the children had the opportunity to enjoy a day at Walt Disney World Resort, including meeting Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. Magic Kingdom Vice President Phil Holmes welcomed the group and shared recommendations for some of his favorite rides.
Since the 2005 delegation to the Ukraine, Florida Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart, has worked with democratically-elected President Vicktor Yushchenko of Ukraine, to coordinate medical consultations for the children with Hanger Prosthetics & Orthotics in Central Florida.
“I am deeply grateful for the compassion and generosity demonstrated by all who have made this worthy humanitarian effort possible,” said Congressman Diaz-Balart. “It is heartwarming to see the outpouring of support from our community for these children.”
During a visit to Ukraine, Congressman Diaz-Balart and U.S. Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky identified the need for this initiative.
“It has been a pleasure partnering with Congressman Diaz-Balart and Ukrainian representatives to make these efforts a reality,” said Eugene Campbell, director of Community Relations for Walt Disney World Resort. “We are thrilled to be involved in creating a magical day for these special children to experience.”