Child who survived cancer only to be denied her wish, given dream trip

Last month, a child custody-related story out of Ohio involving a sick child, a trip sponsored by the Make-A-Wish foundation and a father’s refusal to authorize the trip, generated an ongoing dialogue in both legal and non-legal circles.

For those unfamiliar with the story, four-year-old McKenna M. of Ohio was diagnosed with leukemia just before her second birthday. Over the course of the last two years, she has undergone extensive medical treatment — chemotherapy treatments, spinal taps and steroid injections — and endured prolonged hospital stays.

She finally finished her treatments in June and was offered a dream trip to Walt Disney World in Florida by the people at Make-A-Wish who were sympathetic to her ordeal.

The only catch was that the Make-A-Wish foundation requires both parents to sign the consent form, something they say keeps them insulated from potential custody battles/family law issues.

“We leave the medical evaluations to the doctors and legal issues with the courts,” said Mark Hiegel, the national communications director for Make-A-Wish. “Families have so many different structures; we need to have enforceable guidelines.”

However, McKenna’s father, William M., refused to sign the consent form.

Specifically, William M. — who was never married to McKenna’s mother and doesn’t currently reside with her — indicated that he refused to sign the consent form because his daughter’s health was improved and that the trip should instead be given to a dying child who wouldn’t be able to go at a later date.

“I’m not saying she hasn’t been through a lot,” he said. “But maybe she should get a swing set or something.”

McKenna’s mother and grandmother — who pointed out that the young girl wouldn’t receive a cancer free diagnosis until five years after her last treatment — decided to raise funds for McKenna on their own.

Now, with the help of the truly dedicated charities Jamie’s Dream Team and Give Kids the World, McKenna was finally able to see her dream come true. She is now enjoying an all expenses paid vacation at Disney World.

To learn more about child custody, visitation or parental rights, contact an experienced and skilled legal professional.

Stay tuned for more from our Ft. Worth family law blog …

This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.


Fox News, “4-year-old Ohio cancer survivor gets dream vacation,” Aug. 4, 2012

The Orlando Sentinel, “4-year-old cancer survivor’s Disney dream has happy ending,” Aug. 3, 2012