Marshall boy surprised with Disney World dream trip

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A 5-year-old from Marshall will see his dreams come true this week.

S.J. was born with 10 heart defects. He has since gone through three open heart surgeries.

“His heart only pumps on half of a heart technically and he will eventually need a heart transplant,” said his mom, Danielle Awwad.

She says it’s always been their goal to keep S.J. happy and focused on enjoying life, and now the family is getting help in their quest. For his birthday this year, Make-A-Wish Foundation of Michigan and Allegiant Airlines are sending S.J. and his family to Walt Disney World with all expenses paid.

Monday afternoon, the 5-year-old boy took a limousine to Gerald R. Ford International Airport where he was greeted by a group of volunteers and staff holding posters.

“My son, S.J., has been through quite a bit with his health,” said his dad, Stephen Awwad. “It’s been amazing with everyone coming together and helping us to make his wish come true to go to Disney World.”

S.J.’s parents say his condition has affected the whole family, but it doesn’t keep S.J. down.

“The kid is just tougher than nails. He’s been through so much and never complains and is always looking to help other people,” said S.J.’s father.

Another part of S.J.’s wish was to help hand out snacks. When S.J. arrived at his gate Monday, Allegiant surprised the boy by making him an honorary flight attendant with his own uniform and badge.

“So many people have worked so hard on this and it’s something we would never be able to do for him,” said Danielle Awwad. “There was a lot of times where we didn’t even think we would get to this age, so even the fact that he’s going to be turning 6 on Friday is a huge blessing for us.”

S.J. and his family will be in Florida for about a week. The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Michigan says it has another surprise waiting for them when they get there.

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