Naugatuck teen receives surprise trip to LA
NAUGATUCK — Wishes do come true. Just ask Alicia Porter.
A surprise awaited the 16-year-old, soon-to-be Naugatuck High School senior as she arrived at Hidden Acres Farm on Gabriel Drive Sunday night — a surprise send-off party to be exact.
The foundation has organized a trip to Los Angeles, Calif. for Alicia and her family. The family will be in Los Angeles from July 14 to July 18. Alicia will get to spend a day with Von D, among other activities, while the family is on the west coast.
“There’s not really words to describe it. It’s nice knowing there are so many people that care enough to do something for me,” Alicia said.
Make-A-Wish Connecticut is a non-profit organization that grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.
When she was 8 years old, Alicia was diagnosed with chronic ITP, a blood disorder, Erica Porter, Alicia’s mother, said. Due to her condition, Alicia is susceptible to and has been inflicted with a number of autoimmune diseases, which mistakenly attack and destroy healthy body tissue.
Erica Porter said her daughter is too often making trips to doctors’ office and spending time in hospitals for treatment. Erica Porter, who struggled to find the words for her emotions Sunday, said Make-A-Wish is giving her daughter something she can’t provide.
Erica Porter will be joining her daughter and family in Los Angeles for the week. But, there’s only one site she’s looking forward to seeing — her daughter’s smiling face.
“I just want to see the smile,” she said.
Before the limousine picks up the family at their borough home July 14, there was some partying to attend to Sunday.
Alicia loves the outdoors and horses, so when it came to deciding where to hold the send-off party Hidden Acres was a natural choice.
“We throw parties for every kid before they go. This seemed like a perfect fit,” said Michael Dominick, community and media relations manager for Make-A-Wish Connecticut.
Hidden Acres Farm is owned by Mary and Theron Simons. The Simons also operate the Hidden Acres Therapeutic Riding Center on their land. The center provides therapeutic riding and equine-assisted activities for adults and children with special needs.
“We were happy that [Make-A-Wish] reached out to us. This is what the farm is based on — just to enrich the lives of the community around us,” Mary Simons said.
Jeanna Pellino, Hidden Acres program director, said hosting the party aligns with the center’s mission.
“I think it ties in with our mission to support children and adults with needs,” Pellino said.
The Country-themed party included a lassoing demonstration, BBQ, a tour of the riding center and some time with the horses.
“It’s basically a fun-filled afternoon. Making a wish come true,” Theron Simons said.
About 30 family members and friends gathered at the farm for the party and lined the driveway with signs when Alicia arrived.
For Diane Porter, Alicia’s grandmother, the party and the granted wish are a blessing.
“It is 100 percent a blessing. It’s just something I know her mother can not afford. … It’s something that makes Alicia feel so special,” she said.
Alicia, who has never been to California, is looking forward to talking with and getting to know Von D. However, the two will be doing more than talking. Alicia, who draws herself, will show Von D her own tattoo design and work with the ink artist on it.
Alicia said the design is a dreamcatcher. She said it represents holding onto to dreams. She said there’s going to be good dreams and bad ones, but people need to keep their chin up through it all.
As one dream is about to become reality for Alicia, she took the time to thank Make-A-Wish, Hidden Acres and everyone who donated to help make her wish come true.
“I’m very grateful for it,” she said. “It means a lot to me.”