A nurse named Shari changed my life. I was down and out and was completely in the “why me” phase. She told me that she was going to help me through, and, boy, did she ever deliver on that promise. Every day she helped me through the anger and cracked away at my hard exterior. I have no doubt in my mind that she, even back in 1994, was the NDN1. As a Disney Neurotic Nurse, she was going to make me believe that everything would be okay, that there was a brighter tomorrow and that I would make a full recovery.
I didn’t believe her, but she did it. Every day she requested me as her patient. Even on her days off, she came by to bring me food because, as we all know, hospital food is, well, NASTY! She even went to bat for me getting me passes out of the hospital, when we both knew there was no way I should leave. I believe she had the heart of Walt Disney; she saw a challenge in getting my attitude to turn around. That was an impossible feat, and, well, we all know Walt said, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”
I can truly say she succeeded at the impossible. After a while, I began to smile and laugh and help her with the other kids who were on my floor. I became her nursing assistant. It was at that point, all the other nurses wanted to have me as a patient. My response to them was NO! You didn’t want to deal with me as a bad patient; now you don’t get to have me as a good one! She helped me get through all the tests and medical treatments until I was in remission. Little did I know that not only was she helping me get through it, but she was also paying close attention to what I liked to do and watch. I loved watching the Disney afternoon programs like Darkwing Duck and also The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. She contacted a group called The Dream Factory Inc. She told them that I loved these two things. That call would prove to be a life changing point in my life.
One day while in my room, a representative from the Dream Factory came in with an envelope. She told me to open it. I did and that envelope contained details of a trip for me and my family to see a taping of the Fresh Prince TV show with backstage access and tickets to Disneyland! I couldn’t believe it. It was a dream come true. As the days went by, I got more and more excited. I had never been on a plane. When the day came for the trip, a limo showed up at my house to take me the airport. The newspaper showed up to do a story on me. I felt like a star. Once I arrived in Los Angeles, we went to the Fresh Prince taping. Once the taping was over, I was taken back stage where I met the entire cast including Will Smith. It was so amazing. I think the highlight is a picture with my family sitting on the couch that was in every episode of the show.
My mother was a die-hard fan of the Young and the Restless and, while we were there, we found out they would be taping the next day. She and my aunt, who came on the trip with us, went to the studio where it was being taped. She waited outside and got to meet “the stache” which is what I called Eric Braeden, better known as Victor Newman. She also went to a taping of The Price is Right. While she didn’t get to “come on down,” we did see her in the crowd when the episode was shown on TV. While this was all a great thrill, little did I know the best was yet to come.
The next day was my day at Disneyland. I remember walking through those gates, and, at that point, I knew I would be living the Disney Driven Life. I remember the smells of popcorn, the sounds of laughter from parents and children alike, the screams of people riding on Space Mountain and the Matterhorn Bobsleds, and the spectacle of Fantasy in the Sky. I had never experienced the feelings of acceptance, love, charity, happiness, fun, and all other things positive in one place. It was like the little saying that “girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice.” Well Disney was that! It was everything that I dreamed it would be. It was perfection personified. Seeing all the kids running up to characters and the parents snapping pictures with every step was amazing. At one point, I remember a father going through 2 rolls of film with his family just taking pictures with Donald Duck!
This has been my journey on why Disney means so much to me. If it had not been for that nurse named Shari, I might not be where I am today. Your journey to why Disney means so much to you can be completely different, but, at the same time, it can mean just as much. I have Shari to thank for what is now my Disney Driven Life. She will always be NDN1 to me. It was a time that changed my life forever. Since that time, it has always been my goal to bring a smile to every child’s face through the power of Disney. I truly believe that Disney is one of the wonders of the world and that every child should be exposed to it. So the next time you see that person crying during Wishes! or a child running up to hug Mickey Mouse, I challenge you to think about why they have those emotions. After all you never know how it can make a difference in your life and your dreams because “A dream is a wish your heart makes/When you’re fast asleep…”
Contributed by: Shaene Carson (NDH#21) Shaene is the DDL Charities and Projects Blogger.