DERBY - It is not fair that some children are born with or develop life threatening diseases that take away from a time in their lives that should be nothing less than carefree and magical. But it happens, and there are a number of organizations and people who do all they can to bring some magic into the lives of affected children and their families to help relieve stress and create lasting memories.
Eight year old Terah Snell of Derby is living with a debilitating illness that has her wheelchair bound and in need of extra care. She has a rare genetic disease called Di George Syndrome. She cannot talk, or walk, but has learned how to communicate and show emotion. She expresses excitement for many reasons, like when she sees someone she cares about, and for anything to do with Disney. Her favorite princess is Snow White.
Terah and her family are recipients of Make-A-Wish. She, along with her mother Jamie Snell, her sisters Calista and Natasha, her brother Logan, and her grandparents Sandra and Larry Benware, all headed to Disney World in Florida yesterday. This is Terah’s wish.
A going away Disney party was held in honor of Terah last Thursday at the Derby Elementary School. The entire school participated in the festivities. Children came to school dressed in Disney costumes; several local hair dressers were present to help get student’s hair and nails ready for the party.
The boys in Terrah’s class dressed as pirates; the girls as princesses.
Thursday afternoon, as the school band performed a famous Disney song, one by one each class made its way into the gym to gather for the party. The school’s gym was filled with students, school staff and friends. Finally, Terah made her grand appearance dressed in a Snow White gown, with her hair up and surrounded by a crown. As she entered, those present broke into applause. Terah threw her arms in the air and smiled wide.
She signed thank you several times throughout the event.
Terah also loves to watch dancing. Her mother Jamie said that she goes crazy anytime she attends the high school dance shows. “She’s in heaven on those days," Jamie said.
As a surprise, dancers from the North Country School of Dance performed a number of routines dressed in Disney attire. Terah held a smile on her face through the performance and swung her arms in the air with excitement. At one point she managed to make it up to her feet and, with some help, she danced too.
Following the performance, a slide show on a huge screen played photos of Terah and of all the Derby students getting ready for the day. The song “Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars played.
During the week leading up to the party, Derby students collected donations around the school for Make-A-Wish.
Heather Corneau, the director of wish granting with the Make-A-Wish Vermont Chapter was present. She spoke to all and said it was the largest farewell gathering she had ever experienced in Vermont. She said that what Terah is going though is not fair, but Make-A-Wish can help bring some magic and happiness into the child's life.
Several Price Chopper employees were present. The store held fundraisers and made contributions for the event.
Judy Moulton of Charleston is a volunteer wish granter for the family. She came into the family’s life like a fairy godmother to make all of Terah’s wishes come true, Mouton said. She planned everything, saw it through, and then sent the family off in their limousine.
“Once they're off in the limousine, I’m gone from their lives. Then I wait for the next call,” Moulton said.
Wish granters work as a team and “Toot" Lanou was a partner with Moulton.
Moulton said she was so impressed by the party and the students.
Make-A-Wish is for children with life-threatening conditions, but not necessarily just for those who are terminally ill. Jamie said she did not always know this until someone encouraged her to apply to the foundation. She wants to spread the word about all that Make-A-Wish does.
“I’m so overwhelmed,” Jamie said in an interview Friday. “It was so wonderful and joyous. It was heartfelt to see everyone there and how much they care about my child. It warms me and means so much,” she said regarding the party.
Jamie expressed gratitude to all those who contributed including Cynthia Adams, the associate principal of Derby Elementary School, and everyone who helped to make Terah's magical dream more than they ever imagined.