Wendy Abrams said one of the thoughts that crossed her mind on finding out that her baby boy had a brain stem tumor was that, whatever the ordeal of the treatment, she did not want him to miss out on the joys of childhood.
She and her husband, Jon, their son Buddy, not yet 2, and their two girls, Casey, 9, and Sydney, 6, will experience their first Disney World vacation, thanks to a Long Island businessman who arranged for a fully paid trip to the Orlando-area theme park. As they departed Friday from Rockville Centre, the parents hoped to create the memories of a lifetime.
The donated trip "gives me the opportunity to have this memory," said Wendy Abrams, 43, a bank manager. "You know, who forgets their first trip to Disney? Nobody. So forever we'll remember it and that means the world to me."
Jon Abrams, 41, a financial adviser, called the gesture "such a wonderful thing" that will give them a chance to return with "a lot of pictures and a lot of good stories" after a difficult year.
John "Buddy" Abrams was "cruising around" a happy child, said his mom, until around his first birthday some eight months ago, when "he just seemed weak."
A doctor referred him to urgent care, where magnetic resonance imaging revealed a mass, and a biopsy confirmed the tumor. The toddler has been through three months of chemotherapy, three months of radiation, and two surgeries to remove tumor and fluid. The prognosis remains uncertain.
He's still a boy who "laughs hysterically" when he watches Mickey Mouse music videos, his mom said.
"Buddy is a hero," she said. "He goes through all these treatments. . . . He just always has a smile."
The Rockville Centre couple was not looking for the trip. They had reached out to the nonprofit Children's Wish Foundation, seeking a swing for special-needs children like Buddy to use at the Rockville Centre Recreation Center.
When a related TV news story aired last month, it got the notice of Robert Jesberger, owner of Mid Island Auto Collision in Rockville Centre.
He wanted to give the family something they could enjoy, Jesberger said.
He offered a chauffeur-driven Mercedes-Benz recreational vehicle for the trip, with park entrance tickets, food and lodging covered at a cost of between $5,000 to $7,000. Jesberger, who's made the news before for his Thanksgiving donations of meals, said he is just sharing some of his good fortune. "Those that have been given much have much to be expected," he said. "It's going to be a celebration of Buddy's life."
Buddy's sisters stood outside the Rockville Centre business with one thing on their minds. "I want to meet Mickey Mouse and I like to go on rides," Casey said.
Which ride? "It's A Small World," Sydney said.