Make-A-Wish granting sends Jonesboro 3 year old to Disney World

Makenzie playing on the playground before her wish granting
Makenzie playing on the playground before her wish granting
Makenzie learning she's going to Disney World
Makenzie learning she's going to Disney World

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - In February, Region 8 banded together, raising the most money ever for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Wednesday, another wish was granted in Northeast Arkansas, but the money raised this time came strictly from Jonesboro Public School students.

A school assembly at International Studies Wednesday afternoon gave hundreds of people the opportunity to watch a wish-granting take place.

"Her name is Makenzie, she's 3 years old an she dealing with a life threatening illness," Trey Stafford, dressed as Goofy, informed the Jonesboro Public School students.

At just three years old, Makenzie has undergone three open heart surgeries.

Despite all that, she's a pretty happy-go-lucky kid and she loves Dora the Explorer.

So when Dora showed up at her house Wednesday, backpack and map in hand, to take her on a scavenger hunt it was already shaping up to be a good day.

Makenzie and Dora followed clues on the map to lead them to Mickey Mouse. They spotted things along the way like the giant ice cream cone at Andy's, the "big M" along Johnson and the "really big clock" at Huntington.

Makenzie's last clue was to find the colorful flags that welcomed her inside International Studies.

Unbeknownst to her, Disney characters galore were waiting for her.

Goofy explained why.

"Her dream is to go to Disney World. To get away from the tests, to get away from the doctors, to get away from all the stuff that she's been having to do to get away from her life threatening illness."

May 2013, we introduced you to Makenzie. At that point, she'd already undergone two open heart surgeries, each making her heart a little bit stronger.

She underwent the third last November. The surgeries are small fixes to will prolong what is the cure for hypoplastic left-heart syndrome...a heart transplant.

The disease she lives with on a daily basis qualified her to have a wish granted through the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Jonesboro Public School System made sure Makenzie got her wish.

"Today's wish, is about the $11,000 plus you guys raised through the Jonesboro school system last year!" Goofy informed the children.

Fundraising efforts through Jonesboro public schools started 10 years ago with none other than Goofy's daughter.

"Ever since I've started we've raised $66,000," Ellie Stafford, dressed as Dora told Region 8 News.

In elementary school, Ellie and her friend Maggie Benton decided to kick start Make-A-Wish fundraising at Jonesboro Public Schools. They've since granted four wishes.

"There's no words to describe how good it feels every year," Ellie said.

As Makenzie walked into the school, she was on her way to becoming the fifth wish child. Mickey's footprints lead her to the big unveil.

"Guess what, Makenzie?! You're getting to go to Disney World!" Mickey told her.

Though for a three year old, hundreds of people in costume can be a little unnerving, it didn't take long for Makenzie to go back to her happy-go-lucky self...especially since cake and presents were involved.

It's a moment in time that encompasses what Make-A-Wish is all the child a chance to forget all their troubles. A moment in time Makenzie's mom, Renea is all too grateful for.

"It's sad that she qualifies for Make a Wish but it's amazing that there's an organization like Make-A-Wish to do that. It's going to give us a break away from our reality," Renea said.

Money raised this year for Make-A-Wish through Jonesboro Public Schools will go toward granting a wish for a child next year.

Copyright 2014 KAIT. All Rights Reserved.