A family of a cancer-stricken five-year-old has hit out at the UK’s Make-A-Wish charity for cancelling a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Disney World due to COVID-19.
Luca Feno-McBride, five, from Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, has been battling brain cancer for the last year and is finally set to ‘ring the bell’ next week to mark the end of his chemotherapy.
His parents hoped to celebrate with a visit to the Florida amusement park, but after Luca raised more than £6,600 for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, the family was told that the holiday has been cancelled because of the coronavirus.
His loved ones are now fundraising to take him to Disney World themselves and claim the visit should have just been postponed – with many other families on Twitter sharing their disappointment at having their Make-A-Wish trips cancelled too.
Luca Feno-McBride (pictured), from Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, has been battling brain cancer for the last year and is finally set to ‘ring the bell’ next week to mark the end of his chemotherapy treatment
The five-year-old (pictured before his diagnosis) planned to celebrate with a visit to the Florida amusement park, but after raising more than £6,600 for the Make-a-Wish Foundation he was told that the holiday had been cancelled because of the coronavirus
His loved ones are now fundraising to take him to Disney World themselves and suggested the visit should’ve just been postponed – with many other families on Twitter sharing their disappointment at having their Make-A-Wish trips cancelled too (above)
Luca raised more than £6,600 for the Make-a-Wish charity to help other sick children while he fought his own battle against cancer.
He created and sold rainbow-themed gifts and was rewarded for his hard work by the organisation, who promised him and his brother Rocco a trip to Disney World in November.
But the charity has had to cancel or postpone 2,000 wishes as a result of the virus, including Luca’s.
His family have set up a GoFundMe page and are hoping to fly Luca to the US thanks to any donations made.
Writing on the fundraising site, Luca’s loved ones said: ‘ We managed to raise an incredible £6614 for the charity. However this week they delivered the blow that his wish was cancelled with no option to just postpone it.
Luca raised more than £6,600 for the Make-a-Wish charity to help other sick children while he fought his own battle against cancer. He created and sold rainbow-themed gifts (pictured)
‘They have offered a limited non-travel wish, but I don’t have the heart to tell him, nor to ask him to choose something else. So it’s my job to make this wish come true.
‘He’s been through so much it’s the very least he deserves, and he’s looking forward to it so much.’
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They added: ‘I appreciate the times we are in with COVID but for me, this decision goes against everything the charity is about.
‘I feel it should have been postponed or they refund the monies raised to actually make his wish happen.
‘Nevertheless, this boy deserves the world so I will continue to fundraise and he will get to Disney World.
‘To all my amazing supporters I can’t thank you enough for all the help we’ve had and by no means expect anyone to donate again. I’m sorry your previous donations have been under false pretences.
‘Luca rings the bell next week to mark the end of his chemo, so the news our trip is cancelled comes at the worst time. He should be ringing the bell and then looking forward to his wish!
‘Fortunately we are lucky to have some amazing people who have helped us massively along our way to making this wish come true. Luca’s school raised an incredible amount for him last year so we’re not a million miles away from funding it.’
And it wasn’t just Luca’s family that expressed their disappointment that some wishes had been cancelled.
One person wrote on Twitter: ‘After staying in for 13 weeks with no end in sight, Harrison was still holding out that he would go to Florida for his Make-A-Wish that was granted for November. Today we’ve been told it’s cancelled indefinitely. Kids heartbroken.’
Another said: ‘So my sister’s Make-A-Wish trip just got cancelled. She’s a 12-year-old who is terminally ill and doesn’t even know it because my mum won’t let us tell her. Ms Rona (coronavirus) really destroying everything.’
Reaction: It wasn’t just Luca’s family that expressed their disappointment that some wishes had been cancelled, with others taking to Twitter to share their upset
Make-A-Wish Chief Executive Jason Suckley said: ‘Last week, our partner for wishes in Florida closed their doors for the foreseeable future because of the coronavirus.
‘We are offering families whose wish was to go there an alternative wish, but we’re simply unable to keep a waiting list for Florida with all the uncertainty that currently surrounds travel and costs. We understand that this is heartbreaking news.
‘Our mission is to grant wishes to children who are seriously ill and nearly 2000 children are waiting for their wish as a result of COVID-19 so we are having to make robust decisions in order to reach as many of those children as possible.
‘In this case, our decision is to cancel all Florida and European travel wishes until we are in a financial position to be able to guarantee these types of wishes. We simply don’t know when it will be safe for vulnerable children and young people with serious illnesses to travel again.
‘We are also making changes at the charity so that can continue to grant wishes. This includes a restructure of the organisation and considerable activity around financial planning.’