When word arrived they’d won a trip to Disney World, Jodie Dantin said it was some very much needed magic for her family.
It was a gift from a family in Atwater, Ohio, whose story was just as magical.
Kelly Middleton and her eight children (six adopted and two biological) were returning from their own Disney trip when they discussed how much they enjoyed it and wanted to find a way to give the opportunity to someone else in need. Middleton welcomed it as a chance for her children to learn how to sacrifice, which her adopted daughters knew firsthand.
Middleton, a single mother who owns a daycare and adores children, knew it, too.
They went to work with her children doing everything from dog sitting to selling hand-painted ornaments to raise funds.
They even gave up some of their Christmas presents to help pay for the trip. They posted the invitation for nominations and received hundreds of them, which they narrowed down to three families and then couldn’t agree on a single winner.
So, they went back to fundraising and got the money for three trips. They even bought tickets to the Mickey Mouse Christmas party and sent the families care packages with princess and pirate costumes, mouse ears, autographed books, toys and a $500 gift card for shopping.
In July, the Ohio family posted a video announcing the winners on Facebook and one of them was Dantin’s family. On Friday, they were headed to Disney World to unite with the other two families and the Middletons.
When the Paradis family learned they’d received one of the trips, Dantin was overwhelmed.
“I was completely over the moon,” she said. “I cried instantly. It’s true Disney magic.”
Actually, it was magic in every way.
Middleton said Dantin’s nomination was the last one received on the last day they were taken, and had been submitted by Dantin’s friend Ashley Bernhardt at midnight.
“Their whole story plucked at our heart strings,” Middleton said. “The baby with the medical issues and grandmother lost to cancer recently. We just felt they deserved some happiness in life – and deserved a trip.”
“Miss Kelly and her children were willing to give up their Christmas gifts to help others.” – Jodie Dantin
The baby is one-year-old Miabella, who had literally struggled for life at birth.
“Miabella has given us a little whirlwind this year,” said the Paradis mother about her youngest daughter. “She has had quite a lot of medical issues.”
The youngster was born a month early and diagnosed as failing to thrive, which meant she wasn’t growing and has Hypotonia or low muscle tone that requires she wears braces on her legs (they hope this will be corrected with therapy). The youngster has improved since that time, but still has epilepsy and an airway disorder called Laryngomalacia that will require a second surgery on their return from their trip on Dec. 17.
She also has sleep apnea, which further restricts her breathing, and causes delayed speech. Her disorders require seeing occupational, speech and physical therapists.
There was little time or money for anything else in their lives, making what they saw in the video a blessing for them.
Additionally, Dantin dealt with the challenge of having recently lost her mother to cancer. Miabella had been named in honor of her, who called Dantin “my beautiful” and that’s what her baby’s name means in Italian.
“It has been such an overwhelming past 1-1/2 years that this trip couldn’t have come at a better time,” Dantin said. “It came just before her airway surgery so it’s just been such a blessing for it to be a gift … to us, this is huge.”
The Middletons maintain they’re really getting the gift.
“My girls told me they can’t wait to see the children’s faces as they experience the magical kingdom. They just want to see other people happy. I’m extremely proud of them.”