West Virginia teen AlisaAnne Scamehorn’s dream has always been to see “the big circus.” This week her wish came true in Coney Island.
“She was ecstatic,” dad John Scamehorne said. “She was just waiting all the time until we could get here.”
John, an interstate trucker, and his family approached the Make-a-Wish Foundation about AlisaAnne’s circus dream about eight months ago.
Seventeen-year-old AlisaAnne suffers from a severe form of cerebral palsy, has extremely limited vision and is unable to walk.She weighed in at just one pound, seven ounces at birth and had to endure seven operations in the first three years of her life.
With a backstage pass to The Coney Island Boom-A-Ring on West 12th Street, AlisaAnne not only got a chance to experience the show live along with big sister Jaymee, she also got an opportunity to touch a real-live Asian elephant, check out sparkling costumes and meet circus performers.
“It means the world to us that Make-A-Wish could help us do this and provide this because it’s something we wouldn’t have been able to provide for her at all,” AlisaAnne’s dad said.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation has 65 chapters nationwide. The Metro Chapter responds to kids from the five boroughs and Nassau County ranging in age from two-and-a-half to 18 years-old.
This year the local chapter also helped another 278 kids from outside the Metropolitan area who are coping with life-threatening diseases.
“A wish can be the best medicine,” said Gaby Sappington, director of marketing and communications. “We offer hope, strength and joy to kids - that’s the mission.”
According to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, most children’s requests fall into four categories - a wish to go someplace, have something special, meet someone famous, or be someone for a day.
“We always say the only limitation to a child’s wish is their imagination,” Sappington said.
AlisaAnne and her family drove about 340 miles from Moorefield, West Virginia in a rental car provided by the Make-A-Wish foundation to reach the Coney Island Boom-A-Ring.
While AlisaAnne’s ability to communicate is limited, she had no difficulty expressing her joy about being at the circus - hugging everyone she met, laughing and even dancing in her wheelchair.
The family also enjoyed the New York Aquarium and the Statue of Liberty before heading back home where AlisaAnne attends the West Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind.
With so much “sensory overload,” dad John worried a little that the whole circus experience could trigger a small seizure in his daughter.
“But it’s worth it with everything we’ve been through,” he said.
Sometimes, people don’t always know how to react to her daughter’s condition, AlisaAnne’s mom Connie Scamehorn said.
“My Christianity has been tested,” the former florist said. “But she does not know how to hate.”
The Scamehorns have five children and three foster children together. They will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary in September.
To find out more about the Make-A-Wish Foundation, call 516-944-6212 or log onto www.metron
The Coney Island Boom-A-Ring runs through September 7.