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Make-A-Wish visits FCA

For Faith Christian Academy fourth-grader Kinda Gregory, wishes do come true.

Make-A-Wish Eastern North Carolina surprised Kinda — who has cystic fibrosis — with a week-long trip to Disney World during Faith Christian’s yearly award ceremony Friday. In front of a packed auditorium, Principal Micah Conlon introduced Kinda, saying that she had persevered through far more than the average fourth-grade student.

“Just the other day we had our field day, and Kinda’s lung function was at about 70 percent, but she was out there running around with all the other kids,” he said. “You would never have known.”

With Kinda and her mother, Julie, standing in front of the crowd, Make-A-Wish volunteers Michelle McKee and Michele Woodard walked up to the pair, holding large gift bags full of books, snacks and other essentials for their trip. Kneeling down, they told Kinda what the fuss was all about.

“You’re going to Disney World,” they exclaimed, as the other students in attendance held up signs they had made in advance to celebrate Kinda.

As she and her mother walked out of the auditorium, Kinda could hardly contain her excitement. She bounded up and down in place as she thought about the trip. Asked why she wanted to go to Disney World, she said she wanted to go have fun.

“I really like the characters, and to have a lot of fun and meet new people,” she said. “I haven’t been to Disney World but I’ve been to Universal Studios.”

Julie Gregory said that Kinda’s father passed away several years ago, and she has had to deal with that on top of her cystic fibrosis. Kinda has had the disease since birth, and Julie credited her daughter’s “second family” at Faith Christian with helping her deal with both the loss of her husband and Kinda’s condition.

“They have been wonderful, they have helped us so much,” she said. “Anything I needed, helping with Kinda. They have been wonderful, I couldn’t ask for a better class.”

Jerry Peters, vice president of brand advancement for Make-A-Wish ENC, said that the organization chooses kids to give a wish to based on a set of criteria.

They must live in eastern North Carolina, have a life-threatening illness, be between two-and-a-half and 18 years old and have not previously received a wish from Make-A-Wish or another similar organization.

Once those criteria are met, volunteers are assigned to work with the child and their family to determine what their wish is, and figure out the best way to accomplish that.

McKee and Woodard worked with the Gregorys to make sure Kinda got the perfect wish.

Julie learned that the trip was approved weeks in advance —- and had to make sure Kinda didn’t learn about it until the time was right.

“We actually learned that they had sent mail to them saying the wish was approved with the Make-A-Wish logo on it,” McKee said with a laugh. “So we had to call home and say, ‘make sure she doesn’t see the mail.'”

The Gregorys will spend their vacation in the Give Kids the World Village, a Florida resort for children with life-threatening diseases.

By Joey Pitchford