The Make-A-Wish Foundation will soon send Falan Hollman, a Grade 4 at Mattie McCullough Elementary School, and her family on a Disney cruise. (File photo by ADVOCATE staff)

Make-A-Wish Foundation sending Red Deer girl on Disney cruise

Grade 4 student Falan Hollman is diagnosed with Rett Syndrome

A Red Deer girl is going on her dream trip, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Falan Hollman, a Grade 4 student at Mattie McCullough Elementary School, will soon set sail on a Disney cruise with her family.

She has Rett Syndrome, which is a rare genetic postnatal neurological disorder that occurs almost exclusively in girls. It leads to severe impairments, affecting nearly every aspect of the child’s life: their ability to speak, walk, eat and even breathe.

“Falan doesn’t get a lot of say in what happens in her world. When she’s sick, she’s sick. When her body won’t co-operate, it won’t co-operate,” said Nicole Hollman, Falan’s mother and a teacher with Red Deer Public Schools.

“With Rett Syndrome, she has the will to talk and move, but because her apraxia is so severe, she cannot. She tries really hard and her body often doesn’t let her do what she needs to do. She is trapped in there,” said Hollman.

Hollman said the family has known about the Make-A-Wish Foundation for years.

“They said (Falan) would be a candidate because her lifespan is shortened drastically,” she said. “It was something that we knew we wanted to pursue, but we wanted her to be old enough to make the decision on her own … so that this could be something that she wanted, not something that we thought she might want.”

Make-A-Wish co-ordinators spoke with Falan to make sure her requested wish was something she could fully experience and enjoy.

“We had taken some time as a family to watch videos of wishes being granted for families. She became so focused on the Disney cruise and her body language changed when she saw the video of a Disney cruise,” said Nicole.

The Hollmans’ trip was recently announced during a school assembly.

Mattie McCullough Elementary School principal Lisa Spicer said students were excited for Falan.

“They are high-fiving her in the hallway and it’s just a really great thing to see,” Spicer said. “They have had Falan in class with them and she has grown up in our school.

“She’s just a presence. Everyone knows her and she interacts with everyone and she has her own opinions about things.

“But the flip side is, it’s not like the other kids are unaware of her struggles. They know that she is in an awful lot of pain so much, she can’t do things the same way as they can, even though she does them in her own way.”

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