On Saturday, a limousine arrived at Ella Hoffman's home to take her and her parents, Afton and Case, to the Indianapolis airport, then off to Disney World.
"Minnie Mouse is her favorite character," Afton told The Brazil Times. "We are so excited for her."
Since 1980, a network of more than 25,000 Make-A-Wish Foundation volunteers have granted the wishes of more than 193,000 children around the world who are suffering from life-threatening medical conditions.
In November 2008, then 7-month-old Ella was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma, a rare eye cancer caused by a genetic disorder, during a CAT scan for another medical condition. Ella endured a painful process of six rounds of chemotherapy and ultimately proton beam radiation treatment, along with several necessary eye surgeries, including one to remove cataracts caused by the previous radiation treatments.
Although Ella's eyes finally stabilized for six months, in April 2010 doctors discovered the tumors had returned in Ella's eyes.
On May 21, doctors replaced the toddler's left eye with a prosthesis in an attempt to help prevent the cancer from returning.
For most parents, discovering their child has a rare disease can be devastating. But for the Ella's parents, it was a blessing in disguise.
"If Ella hadn't been diagnosed when she was, she wouldn't be with us now," Afton said. "Ella always comes through it all with a smile on her face. She's just simply amazing."
After a positive medical check up this past week at St. Jude's in Indianapolis, Afton said the energetic, happy toddler has recently begun tackling some childhood milestones, like taking her first steps and talking.
According to Afton, the Make-A-Wish Foundation recently contacted the family after a social worker at Riley Children's Hospital notified the organization on Ella's behalf.
The sleepy toddler wasn't too talkative before leaving Saturday, dozing comfortably in her grandmother's arms while Afton and Case made sure everything was ready to go.
"Ella doesn't really know about the trip right now," Afton said as the family was preparing to leave for Disney World. "But once we get there, I'm sure she is going to love this. It's going to be very special for Ella."