It’s every child’s dream to go to Disney World, but Finn Blumenthal’s trip was even more special than most. You see, his was a Make-A-Wish getaway, a nod to his incredible fight against a congenital heart condition. But the most amazing part of his day at the Magic Kingdom was an early-morning interaction with a theme park photographer whose actions left Finn’s parents in tears.
Already parents to a five-month-old son named Mason, Kelly and Michael Blumenthal found out on May 3, 2014, that they would be adding another baby to their brood. Michael described the day as “magical” on their GoFundMe page.
But their new-baby joy was soon shattered when, three months later, a technician noticed something during Kelly’s check-up. Doctors then found their son-to-be’s heart had various life-threatening abnormalities, including having no chambers. They predicted the baby would have only a slim chance of survival.
Even if the baby did make it, doctors would have to perform open heart surgery on the newborn if they wanted a chance to save his life. With that, their GoFundMe page says, “Kelly and Michael made the decision that in the few precious moments with Finn, they would make sure he knew he is loved now and forever.”
So, Kelly gave birth to their second son with little idea of how long he’d survive outside of the womb. But it turned out Finn was a fighter and he underwent ten operations, including an open heart surgery, within his first year of life.
After the best part of a year in the hospital Finn was well enough to go home. He spent 11 months there before his heart failed him. But the then two-year-old survived once again, undergoing a second open heart operation and several more surgeries.
And, once again, Finn came out stronger on the other side. Kelly wrote on her Facebook page, Prayers For Finn, “He is now a beautiful, thriving, almost four-year-old. His journey with heart disease is far from over, but he is here and he is enjoying life to its fullest.”
“His heart could still fail at any point, and he could be gone, but […] I have peace knowing we have done everything we can for this little boy and he is in the best position he could be for a long and beautiful life,” Kelly concluded.
Conscious of the precarious nature of existence, it’s clear Kelly and Michael put their heart and soul into family life. Even so, it transpired that the caring couple had a little help in making all of Finn’s dreams come true. That help came in the form of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which gave their son the trip of a lifetime when it sent him and his family to Walt Disney World in October of 2018.
The family piled into a limousine and headed to the airport with little idea of the magic that awaited them. But out of all of the excitement that Disney World had to offer the Blumenthals, one unexpected yet incredibly touching moment stuck out as Kelly reflected on their trip.
On her Prayers For Finn Facebook page, Kelly described the start to her family’s day in Disney. They woke up early to “get to the Magic Kingdom the second it opened. We wanted that iconic family castle photo,” she wrote.
Their plan worked – the Blumenthals got to the Magic Kingdom to find “a very short line” to take photos. A professional photographer worked the iconic spot, snapping high-quality pictures for the attraction’s visitors. But Kelly wanted a few shots of her own, too.
“When our turn came, I turned to the photographer and asked, ‘Do you mind if I snag this spot real quick to use my phone to take a photo with his sign to give to Make-A-Wish?’” Kelly wrote. She added that she offered to get back in line afterward to keep others from waiting too long for their pictures.
But the photographer, whose name was Linda, wouldn’t hear of it. “Go ahead, honey, and take your time. Get a good one,” Kelly recalled Linda saying. The mom-of-two had no idea what would happen next. She wrote, “The goal was [to] grab the moment, but then, the moment grabbed us.”
“After I snapped my quick photo of little Finn with his ‘Wish kid’ sign, we began to walk to the back of the line to re-stand for a family photo. But sorcerer Linda had something else in store. ‘Come here, honey,’ she said to Finn,” Kelly wrote.
The line behind the Blumenthals appeared to grow, Kelly said, but Linda paid it no mind. Instead, she wanted to share a message with Finn. Linda began, “Today is not about what you’ve been through in the past and it’s not about what you may go through in the future.”
“Today is only about today, Finn,” Linda went on. Then, she reached into her pocket to fetch something “very special” for the young boy. “Hold out your hand,” she said, at which point “Finn’s eyes lit up exactly like when we turn our Christmas tree lights on for the first time each year,” Kelly wrote.
Linda had just handed Finn a pile of pixie dust, she said. “You know what, Finn? It’s magic. Just for you. Hold it tightly, okay? Today is going to be full of magic for you,” she concluded. Kelly could only reiterate how her son lit up upon hearing this. “He was living it,” she wrote, “You could see it in his eyes.”
And, with that, both Kelly and Michael were moved to tears – or sobs, as she wrote. Those in line behind them were crying, too, and no one had a complaint about the long wait for pictures. The Blumenthals were touched because, as Kelly wrote, they were able to see the magic through their children’s eyes and through their own.
Although Finn’s health will always be at the forefront of their minds, the Blumenthals came home from Disney World with this and other moments that they’d never forget. “We have so many memories to laugh and dream about,” Kelly wrote.