HOLTVILLE – When Natalie Mirelles walked into the Finley Elementary School auditorium Wednesday, she thought she was attending her first Dippy Duck canal safety presentation with the rest of her classmates. But the reality was better than she ever imagined as her family and the Make-a- Wish Foundation were there to make her dream of meeting a Disney princess come true.
Little five-year-old Natalie got the surprise of her life when the photo opportunity with Dippy Duck turned into a wish granting presentation from Make-a-Wish.
Diagnosed with leukemia in March 2014, Natalie has been undergoing treatments for the past two and a half years. Now that she is at the end of her treatment timeline, Make-a-Wish has chosen to have her wish granted. Natalie’s mother, Belen Mirelles, said she hopes that Natalie’s life will be able to go back to a normal, happy routine when the treatments are finished.
“It was difficult to see her the way she was, but we has been able to get through the harder times with the help of everyone around us,” said Mirelles. “We are very happy to take the whole family to celebrate her birthday. We’re imagining it will be a very happy time.”
Natalie had two wishes in mind when her family was approached by the Make-a-Wish Foundation. One was to go on a Disney Cruise and the other was to meet a Disney princess. She chose meeting a princess, and she was more likely to see one at Disney World than on a cruise.
Marianela Camarillo, a volunteer with Make-a-Wish and Natalie’s “wish granter”, saw this as great opportunity for the family and for Natalie when she saw her name on the list of children to have their wish granted.
“It was very special to me to be able to grant her wish,” said Camarillo. “I thought it would be a great community experience to do it at the school and to show the family the whole community is behind them and supports them.”
On Monday, a limousine will pick the family up from their home in Holtville and take them to the airport in San Diego. Once in Orlando, their transportation, food, and even souvenir expenses will be provided for by the foundation.
The Mirelles family only needs to relax and have fun, according to Camarillo. They will be able to go to all of the Disney parks such as Epcot and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. And then on Thursday, Natalie will meet Princess Elsa for her sixth birthday.
The family will be staying at the Give Kids the World condos that are only available to children that are part of the Make-a-Wish program. The condo will provide beds, food, and anything else they may need to enjoy their stay. Medical services are also provided in case the children need help.
All expenses are paid for by the Make-a-Wish San Diego branch.