Four-year-old McKenna May has been in and out of hospitals countless times since she was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago.
Happily, McKenna had her last treatment last month, and was all set to celebrate with a trip to Disney World organized by the Make-A-Wish foundation.
That is, until her dad refused to sign the permission slip, effectively preventing the charity from fulfilling McKenna's wish.
"I think it should go to kids who only have six months to live," said William May, a Toledo native. He objects to the use of Make-A-Wish money to fund the trip of a child who is "free and clear" of cancer.
But McKenna — who has been forced to endure 15 spinal taps, multiple chemotherapy sessions, and painful treatment complications such as skin burns, vomiting, and hospitalization — won't be considered "cancer free" for another five years.
And, according to regional Make-A-Wish president and CEO Susan McConnell, McKenna more than qualifies for the Disney trip given all she's been through in the last two years. "What I really feel bad about is she is stuck in the middle," said McConnell.
May says he's upset with McKenna's mother and grandmother, Whitney Hughes and Lori Helppie, for allegedly preventing him from seeing McKenna. He was granted visitation rights earlier this year. "I wasn't allowed to be involved," he is quoted as saying. "It ticked me off."
However, he added that his feelings of anger did not play a role in his decision not to sign the permission slip.
Helppie disagrees. "He has made it such an ugly fiasco," she said. "It's not about him - it's about McKenna. But he's doing this to get back."
Despite the setback, Helppie and Hughes are still intent on getting McKenna to Disney World. They've set up collection jars in businesses across Wood County, but say they are still "no where close" to their goal of $3,500.
"The important thing is to get her there," said Helppie. "She loves Mickey Mouse. She loves Cinderella. She's really excited. It's all she's talked about for the last three months."
[photo via Shutterstock]