Our Casey Cares families and their kids always love a sprinkle of Disney magic and absolutely enjoy getting opportunities to go to Disney On Ice shows. This year, our friends at Feld Entertainment and Royal Farms Arena outdid themselves by hosting a very special meet and greet.
McKenzie Coan and Becca Meyers, who each won three gold medals at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro last summer in swimming, shared their stories about how to #DreamBig with our Casey Cares families before the Disney On Ice show. Nearly 60 people, including critically ill children, their siblings, parents and grandparents, attended the event and were inspired by the stories McKenzie and Becca shared with them about their journey to gold. McKenzie has been diagnosed with a connective tissue disorder "Osteogenesis imperfecta," which is most associated with brittle bones. Having undergone surgery more than 30 times in her young life, McKenzie could relate to many of the struggles the kids at Casey Cares have had to overcome. Becca, who has Usher syndrome and is losing her eyesight, yet she became a swimming champion, world-record holder and an ESPY Award winner. The families got a chance to ask the Paralympians questions and hold their medals.
Betsy, whose son, Ashton, has been in our programs for many years and is battling cerebral vascular malfunction and cariomyopathy, was so moved by the presentation, telling us afterward that McKenzie and Becca's journeys were inspirational "not only our children but me, too!"
There were plenty more surprises as well, as Belle, from the Disney classic, "Beauty and the Beast," surprised the crowd with a grand entrance. Other skaters from the Disney On Ice cast stopped by and talked with our families about being a part of the skating tour. Ashton, who is having a Belle-themed birthday party this year, was especially excited!
All of the kids were treated with special goodie bags, courtesy of Disney on Ice and Feld Entertainment, and our families enjoyed a wonderful meal courtesy of our friends at Kona Grill. The staff at the Radison Hotel Baltimore Inner Harbor were gracious hosts, providing a warm and cozy place for our families to hang out, interact and eat in between the meet and greet and the show. WCBM's Michael Gerlach, who hosts a radio show about disability issues, and WJZ came by for the fun, and Becca and McKenzie took over US Paralympics' Instagram account for the afternoon. (You can find their photos and videos @USParalympics).
We are so grateful to everyone for putting this amazing event together!