The boy who defied odds after a 1999 shooting that left his mother dead and left him with cerebral palsy and brain damage is now a happy, adjusted adult who loves to smile and …
He could ask for anything and he asked for his Grandma.”
A little boy with cerebral palsy received the best Christmas present he could ask for: to have his grandmother back for Christmas! Thanks to the good will of contributors and donors, his dream came true.
Mikaael Sanchez, 10, is originally from Puerto Rico, but he moved to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, earlier this year, along with his family, to have access to better medical treatment for cerebral palsy. The one downside is that his grandmother, Illeana Santiago, stayed behind in Puerto Rico; she took care of him and helped raise him while his mother worked.
The 5th grader currently attends South Side Elementary, and the school tries to help needy and/or special needs kids each year during the holidays. Marianne Troutman, one of the 4th grade teachers at the school, told a local Harrisburg news station that during the past few years, the school has made a big push to help as many families as possible. The school helped 93 families this year, including Mikaael’s.
“This is definitely, by far, the biggest thing that we’ve ever done…I don’t think it could have happened any better,” said Troutman.
This would have been the first Christmas that Mikaael would’ve spent without his grandmother, but according to Shawn Lynam (who helped raise funds through crowdfunding and coordinate plans to get Grandma to Pennsylvania), the school stepped in and helped.
“He could have asked for anything and he asked for his grandma,” said Lynam. “So we had to get him Grandma.”
Mikaael found out the big surprise while in the school’s gym, singing “Feliz Navidad” with his classmates. They all thought they were gathering in the gym to rehearse for a holiday concert, when. Jeannellie Sanchez, Mikaael’s aunt, and Grandma Santiago walked up to him. Grandma immediately gave him a big hug. He was so overcome with emotions that he began crying while seated in his wheelchair with his arms wrapped around Santiago.
“I had that moment in my head since I got the Facebook message,” Lynam said after watching the two hug each other.
Thanks to generosity of the donors who contributed to the crowdfunding campaign, Mikkael’s grandmother and aunt will get to enjoy visiting Mikkael and family for a week, while staying in a nice hotel with extra cash to spend, gifts to give to family, and food to eat.
Lynam added that they were trying make children’s dreams come true on Christmas, and the plan couldn’t have turned out any better.
“Just trying to make their Christmas a little bit better and, you know, help a kid with his Christmas wish,” said Lyman.
Sanchez agreed. She was so overwhelmed that she said there’s simply no words to express her gratitude.
This surprise is – we don’t have words. Really…really.”