Ashley the Mermaid JediAugust 03, 2016
During Star Wars Weekends at Disney's Hollywood Studios a few years ago, I was lucky enough to encounter a young girl named Ashley. I spotted her while sitting on the sidewalk in anticipation for the Legends of the Force afternoon parade. She and her older sister, Lindsey, were both seated in wheelchairs with huge smiles on their faces while chatting with their mom and dad. It was obvious that these girls were ecstatic to watch their favorite Star Wars characters and celebrities in the upcoming parade. While it didn't bother me much, I silently wondered to myself why these girls who looked so healthy and happy were stuck in wheelchairs.
Fast forward to the next year of Star Wars Weekends and I saw them again. This time it was in Darth's Mall, the Star Wars themed shopping center where I was helping out at the Her Universe booth. I noticed that Ashley and her sister were dressed in the cutest handmade T-shirts and matching tutus themed after their favorite characters, Chewbacca and R2-D2. I complimented their outfits and coordinating accessories while their mom took a photo of us together.
|Lindsey (left) with Ashley (right) and I at Star Wars Weekends.|
Unfortunately, Ashley's health started declining rapidly about two years ago. She is now 13 years old and faces many new challenges with her body. In addition to her arthritis and immune deficiencies, she's been diagnosed with Epilepsy, Vasovagal Syncope, Colitis, Crohn's, and Gastroparesis. Her body isn't metabolizing pills and recently had a feeding tube put in to assist with that. She started experiencing weakness in her upper legs, which has now progressed into complete weakness and numbness in both legs. While she used to have the ability to transfer out of her wheelchair and walk around, she is unable to walk anymore and also struggles with loss of bladder function.
|Ashley with a very special visitor during one of her most recent hospital visits.|
In an effort to figure out a treatment plan for all of these issues, Ashley will be going to Boston Children's Hospital next month for a six week long trip. She's also scheduled to have spinal surgery in October, which has 50/50 odds of helping and has been told that the feeling in her legs may not return. As you can imagine, her parents face many hospital bills that are becoming harder and harder to keep up with. If you'd like to support this family and help Ashley with her battle against these health problems, please consider visiting their Go Fund Me page and donating.
|Ashley with Chewbacca at Disney's Star Wars Weekends before her health plummeted.|