Dear Disney

On the train to open the park, December, 2008

To all of our many friends at Disney,

When one of Virginia's teachers told me we should take her to Disney World, I thought she was crazy. You see, Virginia has severe cerebral palsy, and keeping her alive at home is enough of a struggle; I couldn't imagine how I could meet her needs at the most crowded theme park in the world. But a little research revealed that you bend over backwards because you want children like Virginia to be able to share in the magic, so with much fear and trepidation, we made our first trip in February of 2008.

My husband and I saw Virginia laugh more in those five days than we had in her first four years of life. Every aspect of the trip exceeded our expectations and our jaws hurt at night because we had smiled so much. We were still relatively fresh on our journey as special needs parents, and while there were obviously times even at Disney World that Virginia's disabilities broke our hearts, it was one of the first places where we felt her limitations didn't hold her back. She could meet Mickey, ride Peter Pan, and soak in every minute of the parade, just like all the other children. The fact that we will {hopefully} be making our seventh trip this December is a testament to the incredible job that you do.

Virginia faces tremendous suffering on a daily basis and there is no room for error in our routine to keep her healthy. She has trouble controlling her temperature, so we have to watch the weather very carefully and even 80 degrees has sent her into a catatonic state. In my backpack at Disney, I have two emergency seizure meds, a portable nebulizer for her frequent breathing treatments, feeding tube pump and attachment tubes, and a small cooler for her thrice daily medications.

There are no changing tables long enough for a ten-year-old girl. When Virginia needs a change, Mom and I take her into a companion restroom and I sit down on the toilet and put a towel over my lap. I then lean back as far as I can to make myself the human changing table. All three of us try to maintain a sense of humor about the situation because it helps keep the tears at bay.

Virginia's type of cerebral palsy mimics Parkinson's in the way her body constantly moves. This makes sleep very difficult for her, especially away from her one-of-a-kind motorized, swinging bed at home. Her stamina is very poor, and we don't last nearly as long as other families in the park. The accommodations you have always made for Virginia don't just make our trip easier, they make it possible.

I spend most of my time trying to think of new experiences to enrich Virginia's life. She can no longer safely swallow, so she takes very little by mouth, and as she grows bigger, it becomes increasingly difficult to hold her in the pool or put her in my lap on the swing set. Disney has remained a special place to our family because it allows Virginia to share in rich experiences she could not get anywhere else.

It takes an army to care for Virginia, so we always bring extra hands. My husband and I, along with our extended families, have a deep gratitude for the welcoming environment Disney has created for children with disabilities. We actually feel more at ease on Main Street, USA, than we do walking around in our own community. Disney has set a beautiful example for how to treat children who are often marginalized by a high speed, performance-based society.

Our Virginia is non-verbal, but nevertheless she is a great communicator. I have included a few pictures {You should feel lucky- it could easily have a whole lot more} so she can show you what Disney means to her.

Unfortunately there are far too many children in our world who know more pain than they should, and while none of us have the ability to truly alleviate it, you have given many of those children the gift of being able to forget about it for a brief moment and experience the magic of childhood. I am confident that you will figure out a way for children like Virginia to continue to come to Disney World, but if you need some concrete ideas, don't hesitate to contact me. I would love to be of service!


Abby Frazer, mother of three Disney enthusiasts

Meeting Pluto, first trip, February, 2008

A big surprise for Virginia at Mickey's House, December, 2008

Dumbo, February 2010

Meeting Tigger, February, 2010

Hollywood Studios, February, 2010

It's A Bug's Life, February, 2011

Splash Mountain, February, 2012

Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It, February, 2012

Buzz Lightyear, February, 2013

Animal Kingdom, February 2013,

My three Disney enthusiasts, parade watching, February 2013