The first time Clayton, or Clay, saw fireworks was through the glass window of his hospital room. Due to his medical condition, he and his parents were forced to observe the vibrant pops of color through the thick window, instead of sprawled out on a blanket in the warm summer grass with their friends and relatives.
It all started back in March of 2015 when a little bruise formed on Clay’s forehead. The bruise turned into a bump that would rapidly progress into much more. Clay would endure nights of ice and heat packs strapped to his forehead. After a period that felt endless, Clay’s parents searched for answers and wrestled with daily confusion as they searched tirelessly for the solution to their baby’s pain.
After five long weeks of seeing eight different doctors, they decided to do an incisional biopsy. Clay never showed any other symptoms and was full of energy and a big appetite. So, Clay’s parents were devastated when they received the news: cancer. They packed their bags and headed to the hospital and within a few hours, Clay was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Clay was only 17 months old. Now 4-years-old, Clay is currently in remission and is as goofy as ever.
After everything young Clay has endured, when asked to describe Clay in one word Alayna replies, almost without hesitation, “He’s a ham. He’s always trying to make people laugh and he’s always in a good mood, no matter what.”
His bright spirit shined even brighter when he found out his one-true wish to go to Disney World was coming true. “I was so excited to tell Clay and he couldn’t believe it. His eyes got so big,” said Alayna.
Clay’s parents, Alayna and Brooks, and his grandparents, Alice and David, packed their bags for an adventure of a lifetime, without a worry in the world. “It was so easy. I didn’t have to worry about anything. Planning trips can be so stressful, but you made everything so easy.”
When Alayna is asked to describe her favorite memories from the trip, joy is evident on her face.
One of the first things Clay and his family got to do was meet Mickey Mouse. “Looking back, that was one of my favorite experiences that Clay got to have. His face lit up and he was so happy. We were all in tears,” said Alayna.
After he was starstruck by Mickey, Clay was able to meet more and more characters. “He really thought they were the real deal,” Alayna said. “He was just so proud and excited. I think that was his favorite part. Well, he has a lot of favorite parts,” Alayna laughed.
Another favorite moment of his wish was at the Give Kids The World Village, where Clay and his family stayed, when Clay had the chance to decorate a star and “send it to the sky.” Once Clay decorated his very own star, he handed it over and within seconds it was displayed on a screen, thanks to technology. “Every time Clay sees a star in the sky, he looks up and points and says, “I think that’s my star.”
Everything Alayna shares - how much Clay loved SeaWorld, how grateful she was for their time together, the morning Clay got to eat ice cream for breakfast - all of this, leads up to Alayna’s favorite moment...the fireworks at the Disney castle.
“I literally did not watch the fireworks; I was watching Clay’s face the whole time. He was so amazed. I think I cried the whole time. I was just so happy for Clay. After years of not getting to do certain things, this made up for it. I can’t say thank you enough.”