Make-A-Wish Foundation sends first-grader to Disney World

By Doug Cantwell
dcantwell@taosnews.com
Posted 11/7/19

Sometimes, wishes really do come true. Such was the case for Liam Martinez, a cheerful, bright-eyed first-grader at Alta Vista Elementary School in Questa. After one of his doctors submitted his name to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Liam recently found himself on a plane headed for Disney World in Orlando, Florida, where he spent a wonder-filled week in early October accompanied by his mom, Samantha Griffin, and his cousin, second-grader Drake Ortega.

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Make-A-Wish Foundation sends first-grader to Disney World

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Sometimes, wishes really do come true. Such was the case for Liam Martinez, a cheerful, bright-eyed first-grader at Alta Vista Elementary School in Questa. After one of his doctors submitted his name to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Liam recently found himself on a plane headed for Disney World in Orlando, Florida, where he spent a wonder-filled week in early October accompanied by his mom, Samantha Griffin, and his cousin, second-grader Drake Ortega.

"Liam is an energetic, brilliant student who brightens our days at school," said Laura Vallejos, educational assistant and first-grade substitute teacher. Before he left on his trip, Vallejos and three Alta Vista teachers conspired to plan a surprise bon voyage party for Liam that included pre-K, kindergarten, first-grade and second-grade students as well as Liam's family members.

Teachers Connie Martinez, Lisa Rael and Pamela Goodwind joined Vallejos in decorating the cafeteria with balloons, then brought in their classes, gave them all noisemakers but told them to be very quiet. When Liam walked in, he was taken totally by surprise.

They crowned Liam king for a day, served lemonade and cookies, and the four teachers then performed a rap they'd composed specially for the occasion.

Vallejos, who organized the event, sent a shoutout to Martinez, Rael and Goodwind. "With your help, we were able to honor this wonderful student who brightens everyone's world," Vallejos said. "We honor our students at Alta Vista Elementary because we know that each one of them is special and worthy of our time and respect."

Founded in Phoenix in 1980, the Make-A-Wish Foundation makes life-changing wishes a reality for children with critical illnesses between the ages of 2½ and 18. Potential Wish kids, medical professionals, parents, legal guardians and family members with knowledge of the child's medical condition can initiate the referral.

Make-A-Wish grants wishes through its 60 chapters located throughout the United States. The foundation also operates in 45 other countries around the world through 38 affiliate offices.

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