Make-A-Wish Foundation Sends Eastern Iowa Six-Year-Old to Disney World

By Nadia Crow, Reporter

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By Ellen Kurt

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A six-year-old Eastern Iowa girl left Sunday morning for a trip of a lifetime. Esther Groothius, her 15 brothers and sisters and parents all took off for Walt Disney World in Florida.

The Groothuis family isn't your average group. They have 15 kids and have adopted on four different occasions. They're all hoping to have a more than average time at Disney World.

"One of the things I really want to do is go on the highest ride," one of the Groothuis's daughters said.

"This is like a miracle, and I'm really happy for Esther, because she gets to come and enjoy herself," another one of the Groothuis's children said.

Six-year-old Esther has a severe seizure disorder and a large arteriovenous malformation or AVM on her brain stem. Her medical condition makes her eligible to participate in the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

"Our doctor let them know about Esther's condition, so they contacted us about what she would like to do and that's when we talked about Disney World," Brad Groothuis said.

He and his wife Jenny adopted eight kids and had seven more biologically. In all, the 15 kids will travel to Orlando to just be kids and put their busy lives full of sacrifices aside.

"A lot of the days she's at school, and it's really nice to spend time with her," one of the Groothuis siblings said.

All of the adopted kids are from Africa, including Esther from Uganda. The trip to a specific Disney World attraction might remind her of home.

"One of the things we're really looking forward to doing is going to the Animal Kingdom where they have African animals," Jenny Groothuis said.

After all the waiting and anticipation, the Groothuis family boarded their plane Sunday morning, ready to take off on their next adventure.

This is the family's second Make-A-Wish trip. When the Groothuis family returns from Florida, Esther will undergo brain surgery.

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