Not every great gift this holiday season came wrapped in paper and topped with a bow. Some arrived by email, attached to a photo.
That was certainly the case when I opened a recent email sent by a Disney Vacation Club member from Kansas named Mike. A proud and grateful father of three, Mike thanked cast members for the powerful role they played in the life of his son Brandon, born with Cerebral Palsy and confined to a wheelchair. Brandon passed away this year at the age of 16.
“For the past 9 years, my family and I have visited Disney World at least once and sometimes twice a year,” Mike wrote. “Every time we would go to Disney World, something magical would happen. From Mickey pushing his wheelchair … to Pluto dancing with him or Minnie kissing him … I have so many thoughts and stories that I could go on for days … Brandon only lived 16 years, but he had a great life. Thirteen trips to Disney, and he never got tired of it. He kept our family young at heart, and we learned to take nothing for granted.”
Addressing Walt Disney World Resort cast members, Mike wrote, “You should be very proud of the work you do and how you impact more lives than you probably realize. I am crying right now (tears of joy) as I think of all the hard work and dedication you show to everyone. At Disney World, Brandon truly was treated just like everyone else. Well, maybe a little better than most. We are saddened by his passing but grateful to have such warm memories. I have two other children, and our return to Disney is inevitable. We have so many great memories, and Brandon LOVED the Parks. How can we top that? I just wanted to say thank you for giving him dignity, honor and respect. I hope you know the value of your work and how it makes a difference in the lives of many. With much love, I thank you again.”
Brandon’s photo will appear prominently in a Member mosaic on the spring 2012 cover of Disney Vacation Club’s Disney Files Magazine as a small tribute to an enormously inspiring young man.