Make-A-Wish(MARTINSVILLE, Ind.) -- For cash-strapped families too beset with hospital bills to spend funds on vacations and events, the Make-A-Wish Foundation has long acted as a fairy godmother-type entity, creating once-in-a-lifetime experiences, connecting celebrities with super-fans, and providing unexpected trips to children with chronic and life-threatening medical conditions.
But what happens when a particular illness makes it impossible to go on an expedition?
For Levi Mayhew, a 6-year-old from Martinsville, Indiana, battling a rare congenital disorder that prevents him from traveling, the next best thing to going away himself was to send his best friend somewhere sunny.
"Levi's most heartfelt wish was to give his best friend Emma a trip to Florida to visit the theme parks and see the ocean," a representative for Make-A-Wish America told ABC News.
Emma Broyer, 10, is described by Make-A-Wish as having "provided tremendous support for Levi during his medical struggles." The buddies spend a lot of time together, and Mayhew wished to send Emma on the trip of a lifetime.
Upon learning that they would be traveling to Orlando, Florida, the Broyer family decided to bring along a "Flat Levi," a cardboard cutout with Levi's face glued to the head, making sure to include him in photos of their adventures.
“With all that we have been through with all of this, the best gift we have been given is Levi and his family added to our family," said Emma's mother, Shawnelle Broyer. "God has brought us all together and we are so thankful that we have them in our lives.”
Her daughter echoed that sentiment, telling strangers who asked about the cutout in Orlando that Levi was her best friend from school.
“It was the best experience of my life,” Emma Broyer said.
At a welcome home party, the Broyer family surprised Levi and his parents with a scrapbook of "Emma and Levi's Trip."
"Levi is such a happy kid," said Levi's mother, Rebecca Drake. "He loves people. Seeing his happy face on the Flat Levi means so much to us. We know that would be his reaction to everything that has happened with Make-A-Wish.”
"I have the Flat Levi posted on our refrigerator now," adds his mother. "We have had such a response from the community on Levi’s wish. I have a waiting list of people who want a Flat Levi to take with them to work or on vacation so he can travel the world.”
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