Comfort, hope, and two scoops of strawberry ice cream

This article was published in Dayton Daily News on Jan. 29, 2016

By Susan Gnann

Kierstin Yoho, a 7-year-old Middletown girl, had a “very, very good time” on her holiday wish trip to the Orlando area. She and her family, including twin sister Katelyn, brother Austin and sister Mackenzie, stayed at Give Kids the World Village (GKTW) and visited many attractions in the area, including a stop at the Magic Kingdom to celebrate Christmas with Mickey Mouse.

The Yoho family started their trip at GKTW, a 79-acre resort designed exclusively for wish children and their families. They were among the many families facing similar difficulties and found comfort, hope and 2 scoops of strawberry ice cream each and every day during their stay. “GKTW was amazing,” remembered Kierstin’s mother, Tiffany Yoho. “The staff was awesome and so engaging.”

After a day or so to adjust to the new surroundings, Kierstin and her family got busy taking in all that the area has to offer. They seemed to do it all, even making a trip to the shore for the girls’ first time in the ocean. The family’s favorite attraction was Universal Studios where they spent the most time.

The family also visited Boggy Creek Airboat Rides “The girls love the water and loved the airboat ride so much,” said Tiffany. Katelyn was so excited to hold a baby alligator, with help from trainers from Gatorland, but Kierstin was a little skeptical.

Both Kierstin and her twin sister Katelyn have a genetic disorder called William’s Syndrome (WS). Characterized by many medical and developmental problems, people with WS are very social and friendly, and the Yoho twins are no different. “Kierstin is particularly spunky,” commented her mother Tiffany. “She loves to be the center of attention and she basically ran our vacation.”

Sick for nearly two months leading up to the trip, Kierstin was certainly ready to celebrate feeling better. “There are good years and bad years, and 2015 was a bad year,” remembered Tiffany. The twins will have lifelong issues including life-threatening heart conditions, vision and hearing problems, kidney issues, and developmental delays. And for each condition they see a different physician and have a daily schedule that is exhausting for the girls and their parents, Tiffany and Ray Yoho.

But whenever Tiffany is having a rough day, all she has to do is spend 5 minutes with the girls and she is happy again. “Kierstin doesn’t like people to be sad,” recalled Tiffany fondly. She went on to say, “we just wanted to thank you guys at A Special Wish Foundation and everyone that was involved in making Kierstin’s wish come true! She had so much fun, and we all got to spend some much needed time together as a family having fun!”

The Xavier University Chapter of Distance 4 Dreams, an organization that started at the University of Dayton, helped raise the funds for Kierstin’s Special Wish. Their fundraising efforts have yielded over $50K since 2011 for the Dayton Chapter of A Special Wish Foundation.

This won’t be the last you hear of the Yoho family. Katelyn’s Special Wish to swim with the dolphins is scheduled for May. If you would like more information about the Dayton Chapter of A Special Wish Foundation or want to be a part of making Katelyn’s Special Wish come true, visit the ASW website at www.aspecialwishdayton.org.