Children who are born with chronic illnesses like heart disease go through life visiting doctors and other specialists, and for these children and their families, day to day life can be draining.
Six-year-old Daniel Adair was born with congenital heart disease, a condition he will live with for the rest of his life. With the help of cardiologists and additional surgeries, Daniel will live a long fulfilling life, but this isn't the case for everyone.
Heart disease is the number one birth defect in the United States and the world. According to the Children's Heart Foundation, over 1 million babies are born worldwide with a congenital heart defect; 100,000 of them will not live to see their first birthday and thousands more die before reaching adulthood.
Thanks to The Wish Connection, a nonprofit formed in 2006 by AT&T employees, Daniel was treated to a weekend of fun, part of which was a visit to Dragon’s Lair Comics & Fantasy.
Like the more well-known Make A Wish Foundation, The Wish Connection helps grant wishes to terminally ill children, but "we also help those that are chronically debilitated," said Executive Director Aimee Fite. "So they might be sick for their entire life, but we thought that they too deserved to have a wish come true as well."
Arriving by limousine, Daniel was greeted at Dragon’s Lair by the store’s assistant manager, Richard Pittman, who had a large shopping bag full of Daniel’s favorite comic book superheroes, The Avengers.
To round out the weekend, The Wish Connection also put Daniel and his family up at the La Cantera Resort, sent him out to a special dinner, did a room makeover and sent him and his family to Candlelight Ranch for some outdoor fun.
His mom, Mary, calls it their "new normal," and though he doesn’t look like he is burdened by his condition while probing the aisles looking at action figures, it wasn’t the case when he was born.
"When your child is born with a heart defect and they have surgery at three days old and another at three months old and you wonder if they are going to live or die it is the most frightening thing," said his mother, Mary.
Here in the United States, about 40,000 babies are born with a congenital heart defect; thousands will not reach their first birthday and thousands more do not reach adulthood. Getting out of the first year is one of the biggest obstacles for children born with a heart condition.
"But this is nice, to not think about it today and to not deal with it today, said Mary. "To just celebrate the fact that he's with us and he's alive and he’s having the time of his life and it’s just begun."