Callie Ensley, daughter of Ricky and Cathy Ensley of Aragon, was selected as a “Bert’s Big Adventure” kid for 2013, which means she’s about to have fun – and a lot of it.
Callie and her family will leave from Polk County tomorrow, courtesy of a chauffeured limo, and head towards the big city of Atlanta. There, they will be treated as VIPs of the most important kind and will get to see an early-morning private performance by members of the Barnum & Bailey circus.
But that’s certainly not all.
After the circus performance, the family of four – Ricky, Cathy, Callie and big brother Nolan – will be whisked away on a chartered plane and flown to Disney World for an all-expenses-paid five-day trip.
The trip is being provided to the Ensley’s courtesy of Bert’s Big Adventure. Bert’s Big Adventure is an Atlanta based non-profit that provides all expenses paid Disney trips to children with chronic and terminal illnesses and their families.
Callie was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was just over one year old. In layman’s terms, cystic fibrosis is a hereditary disease that causes thick, sticky mucus to build up in the lungs, digestive tract, and other areas of the body. It is one of the most common chronic lung diseases in children and is a life-threatening disorder.
Callie’s mom was urged to fill out a nomination form for a chance to win the trip after a friend heard about it on The Bert Show, an Atlanta radio program. Bert Weiss, the show’s namesake, co-founded Bert’s Big Adventure with his wife, Stacey.
“My friend, who teaches at a local school, kept telling me to enter. I didn’t give it much thought and I really didn’t want to get the kids all excited and not win. I didn’t want to let them down. Then one day, my friend sent the forms home in Callie’s book bag. I figured ‘why not?’ and filled them out and sent them in.”
Ensley was thrilled when she got the call saying she had won. “We had to go through several interviews and I really didn’t think we would win, but then I got the call and I was just so excited. I knew Callie and Nolan would be so excited.”
It was just a few weeks before Christmas when Ensley found out about winning. The hard part for Ensley was keeping it a secret. “We wanted to let them know as part of their Christmas present. It was so hard – every time I looked at the kids, I would just smile and have to remind myself not to spill the beans. When we told them on Christmas day, Callie yelled, ‘We’re the luckiest family in the world!’.”
Ensley said as a family, they don’t get to spend as much time together as they would like. Her husband Ricky, as most Polk County residents know, serves as the county’s extension agent. He works days and she works nights, so family time is limited.
They will have plenty of time to spend together as a family in Disney and hopefully find the time to score Callie a pair of pink Minnie Mouse ears. Pink is Callie’s favorite color and she loves Minnie. When she grows up, she wants to be a teacher, nurse, doctor or vet: in other words, she’s keeping all of her options open. And there’s no denying this girl’s been raised in the south – her favorite foods are chicken and dumplings and steak.
Not sure if she will be able to find chicken and dumplings in the Magic Kingdom, but she’s guaranteed to run into a few princesses. That’s a part of the trip she’s looking most forward to, her mom said.
As for Callie’s mom, she is thankful for the opportunity and looks forward to just being a family. “It’s going to be a time where we won’t have any worries and we can just relax and have a real vacation.”