LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - Wednesday, a Lawton girl with a life-altering disability received a warm send-off from every student from her elementary school as she embarks on a free trip to Disney World.
Holly Helton was visited by Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Shrek and other Disney characters, as well as athletes from Cameron University Wednesday as she and her family prepare to leave for Orlando on Thursday. Holly was selected for the trip by Townsquare Media and a local radio show, the Kidd Kraddick Show, which sends 50 kids with life-altering disabilities from around the country to Disney World every year.
Holly has what is called triplegic cerebral palsy, which is a disease she has had since she was born. She spent 3 weeks this summer at a children's hospital in Louisiana and, while they were there, Holly's family began applying for the trip they only ever dreamed they'd be able to take with her.
"I want to go to the Animal Kingdom the most and same with the Magical Kingdom. It's going to be awesome," Holly said.
Holly recently found out about the trip to Disney World but had no idea what was going to happen at school. The assembly was held to celebrate Mickey Mouse's 86th birthday, which is Friday, but also to celebrate Holly being able to join Mickey on Thursday. The students danced with Disney characters and enjoyed visits from the Cameron women's basketball team, the MacArthur high school football team and cheerleaders from both schools.
"It's nice that the community came together to give her a big sendoff, it's really nice," Holly's grandmother Edie McKinley said. "We feel truly, truly blessed. She has come a long way. When she was born they told her she probably wouldn't even walk. But here she is today, walking and dancing and with the encouragement from the community, it'll keep on, she'll want to do more and more and more."
Tanika Gentry is the digital managing editor at Townsquare Media and the planner of Wednesday's event. She said she wanted to do everything she could to make today and this entire trip as perfect as possible for Holly and her family.
"What is just a regular day for them, for us seems like it would be hard," Gentry said. "But I really just wanted it to be a celebration of her and a celebration of her family. And not have to think about any of the daily stuff that they do."
And as for Holly, they head to Orlando Thursday and she says she is looking forward to meeting her favorite Disney characters.
"I have too many to choose from. I have two that I know are some of my favorites. The Cheshire Cat from Alice and Wonderland and Ariel," Holly said.
In addition to the fully-funded, 5-day trip, Holly and her family also received gift cards to several local businesses.