08/05/04 — Wish comes true for ailing 8-year-old

View Archive

Wish comes true for ailing 8-year-old

By Winkie Lee
Published in News on August 5, 2004 1:58 PM

Kiaris Thompson of Goldsboro sits at his family's kitchen table, his eyes wide with wonder, his voice filled with excitement, and he tells of his family's visit to Orlando, Fla.

He looks and acts like any young child happily discussing a vacation.

But he's not.

Kiaris has pulmonary atresia with intact septum -- a complicated way of saying his heart has no left ventricle.

"His blood flows in all directions," says his mother, Wendy Bunch. "He doesn't get the oxygen we get."

Though only 8 years old, Kiaris -- pronounced key-AR-is -- has had three open-heart surgeries. A blood transfusion may be in his future.

He has a joy for life, but limitations as well. For example, contact sports are off limits.

Kiaris Thompson and Lyahna

Kiaris Thompson, right, and his step-brother, Lyahna, pose with Mayor Clayton of Claytonborough at Give Kids the World Village in Orlando, Fla.

The trip of which Kiaris speaks so fondly was provided by the Make a Wish Foundation, which grants wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses.

His wish -- to go to Disney World -- was provided in style.

Thanks to Mrs. Bunch's research on the Internet, and the help of Mary Pedigo of Pikeville and Tanyetta Strickland of Goldsboro, Kiaris, his two stepsiblings and his mother got a week-long dream vacation that began with a limo ride to the airport.

Joining them was Kiaris's grandmother, Doris Johnson, who went in the place of his step-father, Jerome Bunch. Bunch, a student at DeVry University in Georgia, had to remain due to his class schedule.

As Kiaris talks, Mrs. Bunch and Mrs. Johnson look through some of the many pictures they shot. They wanted to record every moment.

During their visit, they got to see Disney's Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios and Sea World.

Kiaris tells of watching Shamu, the killer whale.

"I really wanted to touch the whale," he says.

There is delight in his voice as he tells about the part in the show where Shamu splashes the water so hard that people get wet.

Water is a favorite for Kiaris. At Universal Studios, he enjoyed the children's play area that had a number of water games.

He rode the Woody Woodpecker roller coaster and met a favorite celebrity -- Barney the purple dinosaur.

"I always wanted to see Barney and hug him," he says.

Kiaris got a front-row seat at Barney's show and the chance to hug him afterwards.

"He's soft," Kiaris says.

The child also saw Mickey, Minnie, Pluto and others at the Magic Kingdom, and met and got an autograph from Miss Florida, Jenna Edwards.

It wasn't just the parks that were fun. The family stayed at Give Kids the World Village, which had a place where they could have breakfast and dinner with Mayor Clayton, a big mouse that is mayor of Claytonborough, where the family's lodgings were located. There was the Castle of Miracles, where children could dress up as royalty and be photographed sitting on thrones. There was a building with games and an ice cream palace.

And there was a beautiful contribution, courtesy of Mother Nature. Each day, late in the afternoon, it rained. On one of those days, there was a rainbow that hung so low in the sky, it looked like it could be touched.

"If I was tall enough, maybe I could reach it," Kiaris thought as he looked at the amalgam of colors.

"The Lord was resting on that place," Mrs. Johnson says. "That is a blessed place."