By Paige Lambert
Owen Sirmons and his family of four waited in anticipation at the Make-a-Wish Central & South Texas banquet. Before they knew it Storm Troopers walked onto the stage to present the family’s trip to Disney World.
“It was an over the top experience for a six-year-old,” his mom Erica said. “Honestly we thought Make-a-Wish was for terminally ill kids.”
The Sirmons, of Kyle, will fly to Disney World in Florida March 10 –March 16 to fulfill Owen’s dream of visiting the amusement park.
Erica said Owen is like any typical six-year-old, who loves Legos and Star Wars. The only difference is he was born with Escobar’s Syndrome.
Escobar’s Syndrome is a rare genetic condition that restricts movement during development and causes the joints to form tightly, Erica said.
“In some ways he’s a normal fun-loving child and he just has the best attitude,” Erica said. “This is all he knows.”
He has already had 23 surgeries and there will be more in the future to work on his back, she said.
Her husband, Richard, encouraged her to apply to Make-a-Wish when they saw other children with chronic illnesses getting their wishes granted, she said.
“At first he didn’t understand why we were doing the application or got the wish,” Erica said. “One day he said, ‘I think I got it, I have been through a lot.’”
Erica said the application asked for three wishes in case one didn’t work.
“He just wanted to go to Lego Land,” Erica said. “Once we looked up videos he got all excited about Disney and Universal.”
She said the family will now get a chance to go to all three.
She said the trip will be a good break for the family and especially their 14-year-old son Cameron, since the family hasn’t taken a vacation since Owen was born.
“Everything kept moving forward and we are beyond grateful and excited,” Erica said. “We’ve met so many people through Make-a-Wish.”
When a child’s wish is granted Make-a-Wish holds a going away party for the family and invites friends, family and the wish’s sponsor.
SouthWest Water Corporation’s director of operations Gary Rose first met Owen at his going away party March 5.
Rose said his company sets aside funds to support wishes in Pflugerville, East Austin and the Kyle/Buda area.
“He is a neat young man and it made my heart warm to meet him,” Rose said. “It’s the part of the giving back that is very enjoyable.”
Rose presented Owen with Minecraft and hero-themed gifts. He said the employees contribute by making the gift baskets or even dressing up at the parties.
He said Make-a-Wish told them it is rare for a sponsoring company to be so involved.
“It’s a good ice breaker when you first meet the kids,” Rose said. “I’ve had many employees say that they take pride in the company doing this.”
Many who participate in Make-a-Wish say the wishes give kids an added boost of hope and positivity, Erica said.
She said the she plans to bring up memories from the trip whenever Owen goes into surgery.
“It’s a lifelong memory we’ll be able to look back on,” Erica said. “He is going to be on cloud nine for a long time.”