Sick children get surprise trip to Disney

Holiday surprise for sick children

BRISTOL, Tenn. - We may still be 17 days from Christmas but on Sunday a dozen local students got an early Christmas present.

The students have life-threatening illnesses and are often surrounded by doctors and nurses, but on Sunday found out they'll soon be surrounded by princesses and fairy tales.

The students circled a big red Christmas package with hands over their eyes. When they opened it, Mickey and Minnie balloons came floating out. As the shock wore off, excitement took its place. "We're going to Disney World!" exlclaimed one of the children.

The children all have cancer or an immune deficiency disorder that keeps them from going to a normal school. They all attend the Children Exceeding Expectations school at the Bristol Motor Speedway.

Children Exceeding Expectations organized the trip. "It's like a miracle to be able to take our three-year-old to Disney," said Misty Ritchie of Blountville, Tenn. "He's going through so much."

Ritchie's son has leukemia and has been going through treatment for a year. "He's got seventy weeks left so it's just going to be a good little break for him," she told us.

He already started celebrating with his friend Corban, another three-year-old, who had a tumor removed from his leg. "Corban, like most kids, loves Mickey Mouse," said his mother, Jessi Carr, also of Blountville, Tenn. "He's just ecstatic."

Carr told News 5 that she's thankful for all of the people who are making the trip possible. "We collect donations throughout the community and we receive a grant each year that goes towards planning our Disney trip," said Hayley Dietrich, a teacher at Children Exceeding Expectations.

"To be able to go on a trip as a family and have some kind or normalcy, it's pretty amazing," Carr said.

The group leaves for Disney on January 31 and comes back February 4.

American Idol winner Jason Castro and his band played carols for the children before Sunday's announcement.

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