Ethan’s mom says he was a ray of sunshine from day one, and could light up the room. When he was diagnosed with Leukemia, that light seemed to dim. But, when he was in the hospital, the light seemed to brighten once again as he watched his favorite Disney movies.
When doctor’s first diagnosed Ethan, his family was devastated. Katherine, Ethan’s mom, had shortly before learned she was pregnant with his little sister, which made the news even harder for her. But even as he began treatment, his mom remembers focusing on Ethan’s huge spirit and how he kept pushing through all of his treatments and procedures. It was his strength that kept the family going.
Ethan received treatment for three years before his referral to Make-A-Wish. When Make-A-Wish volunteers asked Ethan what he wanted for his wish, he knew immediately. “I want to go to Disney World” he said, as he demonstrated to them how to shoot a Spiderman web.
Ethan loves Disney and Pixar films. During the wish visit with volunteers, Ethan was watching “Cars” and repeating the lines of Lighting McQueen from heart and acting the movie back out that his parents saw that light shining in his eyes again.
During his wish trip, there was happiness and joy in the family like never before. Katherine remembers seeing a new light of life inside of Ethan, bursting with excitement to meet all of his favorite characters. He ran right up to Buzz Lightyear and Woody from Toy Story and couldn’t wait to see Lighting McQueen and Mater from Cars.
“He had gotten quiet, but when we were there, he was happy and talkative all over again. He still talks about it now,” said his mom.
Ethan and his family spent a lot of time at the Give Kids the World Village , a resort near the parks that is dedicated to giving kids with life threatening medical conditions a place to stay and get away from the stresses of all of the doctor visits and treatments. The Melikian’s loved their stay here, and Ethan especially enjoyed the parties they threw every night, dancing the night away with his brother and sister.
Ethan’s favorite part of the wish trip? His Jedi training course, of course. Ethan practiced in full Jedi get-up and trained with a lightsaber. During the session, he learned how to fight and defend himself with his lightsaber. After his training was complete he had the opportunity to dual with Darth Vader and Darth Maul to show off his new skills. After a the major victory of defeating the villains, Ethan was deemed a “trained Jedi Master.”
Disney, Universal, and The Village combined to make a memorable experience for the whole family, giving them a break from treatment and hospital visits. It was something for them to bond over and talk about for the rest of their lives. “We still share stories from the trip and pull out the pictures to remember it,” said Katherine.
Ethan loved meeting all of the characters… it was all so real to him.
Katherine, Ethan's mom