MARKED TREE, AR (KAIT) - A family from West Memphis traveled to Ritter Communications in Marked Tree on Friday to promote the Make a Wish Foundation.
Instead, they were greeted by the Marked Tree police and fire departments, Poinsett County Sheriff's Department, Ritter employees and a crew of Disney characters. Everyone was waiting anxiously to inform 6 year old Jacques Ballard that he and his family were headed to Walt Disney World.
Jacques mother, Candice, says she was stunned when the pulled up and discovered what was really going on. "It means the world to me," Ballard said. "It's something I never thought would happen. Just out of nowhere. I wasn't even expecting it. When they told me I got excited."
About a year ago, Optus and Ritter Communications combined their efforts to hold a Bowling for Wishes Tournament.
Proceeds from the event went to fund not one, but two wishes for the Make a Wish Foundation.
Vice President of Marketing for Ritter Communications, Susan Christian, says she and her fellow co workers are thrilled to have just been a part of this experience. "It's been really good for us to come together," Christian said. "To create this magical experience for this little boy whose gone through a lot and his family, too. He's got an older sister and she deserves to have a good time and a wonderful experience at Walt Disney World. So, it's just been wonderful for us to get together and plan that for them."
The Make a Wish Foundation works to grant wishes to children between the ages of 2 1/2 to 18 who have life threatening illnesses.
Susan Baldwin with the Make a Wish Foundation says providing children with positive experiences like this make all the difference in their attitudes as they work to recover. "When you have children and their families going through these difficult times, they often don't have a lot to look forward to or a chance to be normal kids," Baldwin said. "Making these wishes come true and providing everything for them gives them a stress free, fun trip. We've heard time and time again from families what a difference it makes for their child having this experience. Knowing people care about them and lifting them up helps them get through what they're going through."
The Ballard family will be heading to Walt Disney World during Spring Break.
For additional information about the Make a Wish Foundation, click on this website.