Originally Published: February 16, 2014 6:01 a.m.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation first became of aware of two-time kidney recipient Isaiah Gunn six years ago, but he moved between group homes frequently, and foundation members lost track of him.
At least until recently.
Gunn, now 17, will soon see his wish fulfilled. He, along with five members of his family, leaves Friday for an eight-day trip to Disney World in Florida.
Gunn learned of the news during a special lunch at The Palace on Saturday, which included a Disney-themed cake and Gunn's itinerary for his trip. Lunch was provided free of charge by Palace owner Dave Michaelson.
Local Make-A-Wish volunteers Debra Pauley and Lori Padilla first met with the Gunn family last summer.
"We found out about Isaiah and we both volunteered to have his wish fulfilled," Padilla said.
"Not only is Isaiah going to Disney World, there's several other places he'll go to," Pauley added. "They put him up in a place called Give Kids the World. It's fabulous, all the things they do for kids."
Setting up a wish, Pauley added, is first and foremost about ensuring a "fabulous" experience for the child.
"Everything is donated. We are always looking for donations to put this all together," she said.
Isaiah said he is excited about the trip. "I'm looking forward to Disney World, to spend time with my family, hang out, and maybe not throw up on a ride," he joked.
He's also eager to visit Universal Studios during the trip.
Make-A-Wish cofounder Frank Shankwitz also attended Saturday's luncheon for the Gunn family.
"The Arizona chapter has been so successful. It started as the founding chapter almost 33 years ago. On average we're doing over 300 wishes a year for Arizona children and we're trying to maintain that standard and hopefully get it up," Shankwitz said.
Isaiah's mom, Cathie Gunn, offered her heartfelt appreciation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
"We, the family, would like to thank the Make-A-Wish people and Mr. Shankwitz for all their contributions, as well as everyone involved who made this happen for Isaiah. God bless them all," she said.
For more information on the foundation, visit www.wishaz.org.
Follow reporter Patrick Whitehurst on Twitter @pwdcourier