The Montana Hope Project granted the wish of a trip to Walt Disney World to 5-year-old Lockwood girl Mia Kennedy and her family at the Lockwood Elementary School Wednesday.
Mia has been a fighter since the moment she entered this world. Lisa and David Kennedy, Mia's parents, call her their "miracle baby" because the doctor's originally said she wouldn't live long.
Mia was born with a rare syndrome that left her with underdeveloped internal organs and low birth weight.
"She was on full life support and a ventilator blew holes in her lungs. Then they basically said there’s nothing else we can do to keep her earth-side," Lisa said.
Mia was born with only a sliver of a kidney that was not strong enough to filter her blood. Mia spent the first year of her life on medications because she was too young for dialysis.
"Mainly the potassium in her blood, she couldn’t filter out. So that kept her alive for the first year. Then she grew big enough to start dialysis and she was still very very small," Lisa said.
While on dialysis, Mia was still too small for a kidney transplant. As soon as Mia was big enough, Mia's aunt was able to donate her kidney in May 2018.
“It’s incredible just how healthy Mia has been since then ... She’s been sick a lot of her life, but it seems that ever since the transplant she’s been so good," Lisa said.
Mia has even started learning to walk after the transplant.
“She is super happy, super energetic. She likes to be around people. She likes you to hold her, then put her down, and hold her again," David said.
The Montana Hope Project thought Mia would be a great candidate for a wish. Six highway patrol troopers presented the family with a teddy bear, commemorative coin, t-shirts and a bag full of snacks to munch on while en route to their all-expense-paid, six-day trip to Disney World in Florida.
“We take care of all of their expenses down there and back," said Dave Evans, the Billings area coordinator for the Hope Project.
Since 1984, Montana Highway Patrol troopers with the Hope Project have granted the wishes of Montana kids battling life-threatening illnesses.
Mia was also given a check for $1,000 to be spent on whatever she pleases, and her older sister Maddy received $100.
The trip will give the Kennedys some much needed rest and relaxation.
“We’re just so excited to go be carefree for a week and just enjoy time together. We’re just so blessed and humbled. I don’t even have words," Lisa said.
As Mia continues to grow after the trip to Disney World, the Kennedy family plans to take life one day at a time.
“(Mia) keeps surprising us. We’ve learned that we don’t set expectations for her because it sets her up to fail. So, we just let her do her own thing and when she reaches any kind of a milestone, we’re just ecstatic about it," David said.
The Montana Hope Project is on track to grant its 500th wish since 1984.