Donations will send Ohio cancer patient to Disney

AP News
Posted: Jul 20, 2012 2:48 PM
Donations will send Ohio cancer patient to Disney

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — A 4-year-old cancer patient who was denied a Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World by her father will get to go after all.

So many donations have poured in from around the world that the girl's mother and grandmother will be able to pay for the trip in August themselves and give the rest to charity.

"We didn't do this to get rich," the girl's grandmother, Lori Helppie, said Friday. "We did it to fulfill her dream, and people's hearts just opened up."

The young girl, McKenna May of Haskins, was set to go to Disney this summer, but her father refused to sign off on the trip because he said she was in remission and the Make-A-Wish trips should go to children who are sicker than his daughter.

The family said Make-A-Wish requires signatures from both parents if either have visitation rights or is listed on the birth certificate. McKenna's parents never married or lived together, but her father recently received visitation rights.

Online donations topped $12,000 on Friday and more money was being collected at banks in northwest Ohio.

McKenna's mother and grandmother said they decided to collect donations at local businesses to pay for the trip after the father wouldn't go along with the plan. Once their story spread, money and other offers began overwhelming them. "I've been offered cars, vacation homes," Helppie said.

They planned to shut down the online donations on Friday. They're giving what they don't need for the trip to Jamie's Dream Team, a nonprofit group in White Oak, Pa., that is helping them get to Disney. The organization says on its website that it helps people who are disabled, terminally ill or suffering a serious medical condition.

The family twice postponed trips to Disney while McKenna was undergoing treatment for leukemia. Her last treatment was about a month ago.

She was diagnosed in April 2010, just before she turned two. Chemotherapy treatments affected her speech and immune system, and doctors told the family that it would be better to wait to go to Disney until McKenna was done with treatment, Helppie said.