WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The slogan for Disney World is “The happiest place on earth”. Disney brought that same joy on Thursday to some children who need it most. Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller shows us how a special meet-and-greet helped more than make some childhood dreams come true.
The cheers for Disney Princesses Anna and Elsa came from some 100 pediatric patients and their families at Allied Services John Heinz Rehab Facility. The performers and other cast members from “Disney On Ice” put down their skates to brighten the day of kids dealing with a variety of difficulties.
Ensemble skater Alex Hodgkinson who hails from Nottingham, England made fast friends with a little girl named Lily who receives therapy at Allied. “I’ve been writing letters with Lily and she’s going to write a message to Olaf and Anna and it’s so nice just to be a part of that and make their dreams come true.”
The cast took part in coloring and a special story time to give the young patients a break from their usual routine at this facility. Allied Services Integrated Health System Vice President Jim Brogna said, “Many of them are here for a lot of grueling hours of therapy to achieve their outcomes and it’s more significant to see them just happy for an hour and just carefree.”
The special meet and greet gave these young patients a rare chance to experience some of that Disney magic up close and personal. “It’s emotional to see the pediatric patients to look up to these Disney characters,” said Mr. Brogna.
As for what parents think of this special royal visit, they believe it’s just as important as any medicine their children may have to swallow. That’s because seeing a Disney On Ice performance with the crowd could be too intense for some of these kids with sensory disorders. “She does have some issues with large crowds and having anxieties with that so this was a great opportunity to be in a smaller setting,” said Nina Wilbur whose 5-year-old daughter Julia receives therapy. To watch her little girl light up was as magical as any Disney production.
Disney On Ice is performing daily through Monday at Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre Township.