04/16/08 — His dream came true

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His dream came true

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on April 16, 2008 1:52 PM

George Silvey sits in his home in Fremont, sporting a "Pirates of the Caribbean" T-shirt.

The 8-year-old got the shirt during a week-long trip to Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World sponsored by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

George, a 3rd-grade student at Fremont STARS, recently returned from the trip. He got a big send-off when he left -- a limousine picked him up at the school and took him to the airport.

For George, the sights and sounds of the theme parks were a dream come true, just as they would be for most children.

But there was another place where he felt he belonged the most -- the Give the Kids the World Village. It is a place where children who are either physically or mentally disabled can have fun and not be judged as they might be elsewhere.

George can't walk, run, or join in many of the activities other children take for granted.

The places he goes have to be wheelchair accessible, or the ground has to be soft enough that he can pull himself across it without getting hurt.

George has spina bifida, a birth defect that makes it difficult for him to use his legs.

But just because he isn't like most other children physically doesn't mean he doesn't have dreams like others do.

"Ever since he was little, he wanted to go to Disney World," said his mother, Michelle. "And for years, his grandpa wanted to take him there. It was his dream. But his grandpa passed away in February."

The Make-A-Wish Found-ation granted George's wish in March. Instead of Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies, he enjoyed milkshakes at Disney World and got to meet some of his favorite characters, such as Donald Duck, Scooby Doo and Chip and Dale.

"He loves chipmunks and squirrels and penguins," his mother said. "Those are his things."

While at Disney World, George enjoyed many of the rides and sights. One of his favorites was the Star Wars simulator. The films are among his favorites. Of course, the Magic Kingdom was a highlight of the trip, with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Cinderella's castle and the Magic Kingdom parade, which he got to see from a seat front and center.

He stopped at Universal Studios, too, where he got a few surprises along the way. He came down one of the paths to see Spiderman standing there, signing autographs. Luckily, George had worn his Spiderman hat from home that day. But then, he got another surprise, one that he needed more signing room for. So, Michelle went and bought him a Spiderman T-shirt. It was a good thing she did because about an hour or so later, George got to have a private meet-and-greet with Spiderman and his friends, Wolverine, Rogue, Cyclops and others, and they all signed his shirt.

Another favorite stop was Sea World, where he got to see one of his favorite creatures -- penguins.

"He kept telling me, 'Those are real penguins, mom. Those are real penguins,'" his mother said.

And he saw Shamu and took in another show where he wanted to get himself and his family soaked.

"George wanted to sit where we could get wet," Michelle said.

But despite the fun he had at each of the sites, the place that made him feel the most special was the Give the Kids the World Village, where children with special needs get special attention.

"They really did give them the world," his father said.

It was a place that was specifically for children with disabilities. And they had everything there that a child could possibly want: games, trains, remote-controlled boats, miniature golf, and a swimming pool that were all handicap-accessible.

The best part of the village, George's parents said, was that most everyone there was a volunteer.

"Some of the volunteers there were like 14 or 16 years old," his father said. "And I thought, 'Wow, I bet they have a million other things they could be doing, and they are helping these kids.'"

Each day, volunteers would bring different gifts to the room. George got snacks, books, DVDs, a photo album and a duffle bag, among other things.

"We needed the duffle bag to pack everything back up in when we left," Michelle joked.

"That village is awesome, and it's all about the kids," she said. "It was small and special -- just for us. George will tell you we felt like royalty.

"Without the village, it wouldn't have been as special.

"They didn't see his disability as a bad thing. They saw it as a cool, wonderful thing. They had so much for the kids, they enjoyed it so much, that it literally made you cry."

"It had sweet stuff, man," George said. And he said he can't wait go go back.