Along with having a heart defect and being allergic to the sun, the 5-year-old Cartersville resident also is a carrier of a genetic disorder called Roberts syndrome.
“She was [delivered at] exactly 38 weeks,” Georgia’s mother, Ashley Young, said. “She was born with [breathing] issues and [also] limb issues ... at Northside Hospital. [To help her breath, the doctor] was able to intubate Georgia, which was very hard because Georgia has a very tiny airway and a very small mouth. So she was trached at 8 days old at Children’s Hospital ... [and since then] she’s had multiple surgeries. She’s had a craniofacial. She’s had her jaw pushed out. She’s had all these different surgeries to kind of get her to where she is now.
“Georgia only has three fingers [on each hand] and she’s missing a bone in her arm. She has her kneecap and a little bit of ankle in her foot and her little foot only has four toes on it. But even though [she has] all these obstacles, she is a spunky, outgoing, feisty little girl. She lets nothing slow her down. They said she would never walk on her own two feet and my child runs. She is a ball full of energy.”
In addition to other gifts and mementos, Georgia received the cherished Daisy Duck toy while participating in Bert’s Big Adventure’s five-day trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 20 to 24. Open to children 5 to 12 with chronic and terminal illnesses and their families — who reside in the radio listening area of “The Bert Show” — Bert’s Big Adventure selected 13 children for the all-expenses-paid journey. Formed in 2002, the nonprofit also reaches out to the youth year-round with various efforts, such as the Fairy Godparent volunteer program and Reunion Adventures.
“Georgia was such an inspiration to everyone on the trip,” said Bert Weiss, co-founder of Bert’s Big Adventure and host of Q100’s “The Bert Show.” “Her positive attitude and incredible ability to look right past her own impairments and those of the other children was a humbling reminder that we should never let anything in life slow us down and that we should always accept others for who they are.
“Georgia was one of the last kids on the dance floor at our character-filled dance party. Seeing the joy on her face that night was unforgettable.”
Unable to financially provide this type of trip for Georgia on her own, Young was extremely grateful to Bert’s Big Adventure. Having the opportunity to share the experience with her daughter, Young especially enjoyed watching Georgia see the Cinderella Castle for the first time, meet new friends and dance during the children’s last dinner. In looking back over her adventure, Georgia said some of her favorite moments were spending time with her new friend Hailey — another child selected for Bert’s Big Adventure — and viewing animals on a safari ride at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
“Words really can’t explain the look on her face,” Young said, referring to Georgia’s enjoyment of Walt Disney World. “She was just so excited. She never stopped. She wanted to go. I was amazed. I was amazed by all the kids. They get tired out real easy sometimes, but all these kids, including Georgia, just constantly went and had fun — smiling and laughing all the time. I was just amazed. I was taken back by the whole experience. I found myself just watching her and watching the [other] kids and everything. I was just amazed at the whole situation. [I am] beyond words to explain the feelings and emotions.
“... This organization, the Bert’s Big Adventure, is awesome. Everything that they tell you that they do is true. We did not have to want for anything. If we needed anything, it was given to us. They were very supportive. Every time I turned around there was someone asking, ‘Hey, can I help you with this? Can I get this for you? Can I do that for you?’ You just don’t get that a lot.”
One of the biggest joys for Young was Georgia and the other children having the opportunity to create lasting memories and discover new experiences without being limited by their medical conditions.
“They were just kids. They weren’t [defined by] — oh, this one has cancer, this one has all these different diseases or things that they’re going through,” Young said. “They just got to be kids for a week. So that was the biggest thing.
“... [My hope is] when [people] see a special needs child, don’t think, ‘Oh, I feel bad for that child.’ Look at that child and see how happy they are. They are [accomplishing] leaps and bounds. Georgia’s done a million things that the doctors said that she would never do. She’s just amazing, and once you meet Georgia, you will not forget Georgia. She has that lasting effect on you.”
For more information about Bert’s Big Adventure, visit www.bertsbigadventure.org.