When 9-year-old Benny Dominguez was born, he suffered a brain hemorrhage after just 26 weeks in the womb; that led to brain damage as well as Cerebral Palsy (CP).
The trauma from birth also led to global developmental delay, Scoliosis and left Dominguez legally deaf and blind, and dependent on the use of a wheelchair for mobility. A majority of the time, Dominguez has been homebound because of his condition.
Dominguez’s one true wish was to visit Morgan’s Wonderland, the world’s first theme park designed with special-needs individuals in mind and built to inclusive for everyone. Make-A-Wish Central & South Texas and Make-A-Wish Missouri granted the wish on Thursday morning. The family traveled from Kansas City, Mo. to San Antonio.
“When I first found out that we were going to Morgan’s Wonderland, I was in shock because it is hard nowadays to find things that are geared towards special needs kids,” Benny’s mother, Mercedes Garza, told La Prensa. “I prayed to God that [Make-A-Wish] can make this happen for my baby because [Morgan’s Wonderland] has this big medal swing and he loves being flung around like that.”
As of 2016, CP is the most common motor disability in childhood stated the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Population-based studies from around the world have reported prevalence ranging from 1.5 to more than 4 per 1,000 live births or children of a defined age range. About 1 in 323 children has been identified with CP according to estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network.
“Make-A-Wish grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. Established in 1984, Make-A-Wish Central & South Texas has granted over 3,800 wishes with the help of more than 250 active volunteers and a community of generous donors.
After the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Missouri originally wanted to send the family to Disneyland, Garza thought of finding a different theme park that will cater to her son’s needs. She started doing some research for theme parks around the United States and that is when she discovered that Morgan’s Wonderland was the best place to give her son inclusion and fun.
Morgan’s Wonderland, which is completely wheelchair-accessible, features more than 25 attractions including rides, playgrounds and gardens. It is the anchor of a family fun destination called Wonderland, Texas that also includes The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland school for students with special needs next to the theme park.
“Our mission is to have a place of inclusion, to see that interaction between a typical individual and a special needs individual and know that they have one thing in common: To have fun, to feel a sense of independence and to gain his or her own freedom,” said Jessica Lizardo, assistant general manager to Morgan’s Wonderland. “I know [Benny] will come out here and have that sense of freedom with his family members.”
For Garza, this was an opportunity for the family to enjoy a day of fun, create lasting memories with family members and provide a respite from the day-to-day regimen of medical treatment.
“I am just so grateful for the Make-A-Wish Foundation because my son and I would never have the opportunity to travel outside of the city,” continued Garza. “I hope that my son is overjoyed to not only enjoy a new city, but to enjoy a park that is geared towards him. Usually, he has to sit out in a lot of things because they are not wheelchair accessible or it is not made for kids like him. Overall, joy from him is enough for me.”
For more information, please visit www.MorgansWonderland.com and www.cstx.wish.org.