Visiting the land of princesses: Make-A-Wish Mississippi brings a Brookhaven girl’s magical dream to life
When two Disney princesses met a Mississippi princess, loud squeals of delight echoed through the hall.
And that was from the 5-year-old’s mother.
Analiese Cook made a wish to meet her favorite princesses, sisters Anna and Elsa of the frozen little town of Arendelle. That wish was recently granted by Make-A-Wish Mississippi, who sent Analiese to Disney World in Orlando with her parents, Angela and Jeremy Cook and her brother, Lawson, who turns 10 June 30. The Cooks are from Brookhaven.
Analiese was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age 3. She has gone through rounds of cranial radiation and now takes daily chemotherapy treatments.
Meeting the sisters was a dream come true, Angela Cook said.
“She is a princess. All little girls are princesses,” she said. “She’s a ‘Frozen’ girl. When she walked into that room and they interacted, wow.”
Make-A-Wish first contacted the Cooks in August 2015.
“At the time she was just 3 and she just told them that she wanted to go to where the princesses and Minnie live. She didn’t say Disney World,” Cook said.
But Disney was the perfect choice for the Cooks’ princess. “That’s the most magical place there is,” she said.
Analiese was in and out of the hospital, but they planned to go June 2016. She hadn’t yet had her 10 days of cranial radiation, so her doctor wouldn’t let her go. They moved the trip to September 2016. Then Analiese’s dad was in a motorcycle crash and broke his left leg and right ankle. He needed a wheelchair for a while so they moved the trip to this June.
It was a first-time adventure for the entire family.
“Lawson’s favorite was Jurassic Park,” Cook said, explaining that her son wants to study paleontology. Fossils fascinate him.
“He kind of wanted to live and stay in there,” she said.
For the weeklong trip, the Cooks stayed in a house in a gated community called Give Kids the World in Kissimmee, Florida.
They were given a rental car and passes to Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World.
They’d worried about the June heat in Florida, but rain kept them cool Monday through Thursday. It finally cleared up on Friday before they left.
“We saw all the parks in ponchos. It was the land of the poncho people,” she said.
Still, she was grateful for the rain.
“That would have been really hot all week,” she said.
They made it to all three parks and even saw all the kingdoms in Disney World. As a Make-A-Wish family, the Cooks were able to get on rides without long waits.
“We made sure they saw what they wanted to see,” she said. “I just wanted her to see and be a part of everything. She deserves that.”
Analiese is in the maintenance stage of her cancer. Doctors are maintaining her remission. Her mother administers her chemo and gives her steroids every day. She sees her oncologists once a month.
She recently finished pre-K3 at First United Methodist Church, even though she’s now 5.
“She’s kind of a year behind,” Cook said. “She could start kindergarten but she’ll still be missing days for treatment.”
She’ll do K4 in the fall and then start kindergarten at Loyd Star after her treatments are finished.
“It’s more important for her to be confident where she is,” she said.
Analiese’s strength has been a blessing for her mom.
“When you fight cancer, you need to be strong. You have to have a fighting spirit,” she said. “She’s tough. She’s a fighter.”
The Cooks rely heavily on their faith in God.
“She’s strong, but he’s given her strength,” she said. “I’m very proud to be her mother. It’s her journey. It’s what she has to go through. She has blessed so many people through this.”
The Cooks remain involved in fundraising for Make-A-Wish Mississippi.
She wants other families to make memories together on a “trip of a lifetime” like they did.
“Sometimes these trips are the last trip these babies make,” she said.
To donate to Make-A-Wish Mississippi, visit ms.wish.org.