MANTUA, Ohio — After several difficult years, a Northeast Ohio family is getting ready for a trip of a lifetime. Nine-year-old Benny Bailey is beating the odds given to him during a cancer diagnosis. Now Make-A-Wish is granting Benny’s wish to go to Disney World.
“That’s the side of community you don’t hear about until you have a tragic situation arise. And that’s the beauty of what I've learned in this,” said Ben Bailey, Benny’s father.
The Portage County family’s life turned upside down in June of 2021 when Ben and Christin Bailey noticed their son’s skin and eyes had a yellowish pallor. Their pediatrician sent them to Akron Children’s Emergency room and he was admitted.
“He was in until July 1, when he was diagnosed with stage 4 hepatocellular carcinoma, which is liver cancer, that had metastasized to his lungs,” recalled Christin Bailey.
She said the stage 4 diagnosis became even grimmer when doctors told them about the disease’s survival rate.
“They told us at diagnosis that there was a 10% survival rate and that they would start chemo pretty much immediately,” she said.
Benny went through 6 rounds of chemotherapy, which made the normally vibrant 4th-grader lose energy and feel sicker.
Through a family member’s connections, Benny had a course-altering surgery to remove most of his liver at Boston Children’s Hospital.
“His recovery was miraculous,” Christin Bailey said.
The family is now looking forward to another smaller miracle. Make-A-Wish is granting Benny’s wish to bring the entire family to Disney World in February.
“We haven’t done anything fun, really as a family, going anywhere, doing anything,” Ben Bailey said. “They cover your airfare, they cover your hotel expenses. All your expenses are paid, including the entire family, which is amazing.”
The Baileys said they’ve been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support they’ve received from family, friends, employers and the community. The Make-A-Wish gift was another testament to that generosity.
“There’s just a lot of great people in this world. And you don’t see that until you go through something like this. And that has been the most amazing thing, I think, that our family has experienced. It’s changed me,” Ben Bailey said.
Benny is currently undergoing maintenance treatment for the cancer, but his parents said his latest scans have shown no disease detected.
Many of the wishes, like Benny’s trip to Disney World, are made possible with community support.
News 5 is partnering with Make-A-Wish and the Home Builders Association’s Charitable and Educational Foundation for “A Home for the Holidays.”
You can buy $100 raffle tickets to win a dream home in North Royalton. The proceeds will benefit Make-A-Wish and children, like Benny.
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