Home Local News Houston student and family gets dream trip from Make-A-Wish

Houston student and family gets dream trip from Make-A-Wish

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Andy Brosig/News-Sun

More than a year in the making, the Blakely family of Hobbs is winging their way toward the Walt Disney World Resorts in Florida to give 13-year-old Rylee her first experience of the beach, courtesy Make-A-Wish New Mexico and Crosswinds Community Church.

Rylee, a special-needs student at Houston Middle School, in Hobbs, lives with what her family described as a “very rare” genetic disorder — Bainbridge Roper Syndrome — leaving her unable to speak, and with both physical and developmental delays, her parents, Jeff and Tasha Blakely told the News-Sun.

“Only about 300 people in the world” live with the same disorder, dad Jeff said.
“She walks now, but she didn’t walk until she was about 7 years old,” Tasha added.

Rylee’s special needs classmates were joined by the HMS band, cheerleaders and student council on Friday to give Jeff, Tasha, Rylee and younger sister Brooklyn, 12, a send-off for their trip. As part of the party, officers from the Hobbs Police Department and Lea County Sheriff’s Office were joined by a crew from the Hobbs Fire Department to escort them home on the first leg of their journey.
Tasha said the plan was to stay the night Saturday in Lubbock before leaving early today (Sunday) for Florida.

Their itinerary in Florida was a bit up in the air on Friday — “We’re kind of winging it,” Tasha said — but Rylee loves the water and is fascinated by aquariums, so Sea World is also in the plans, the family said.

“And we definitely want to take her to the beach and let her put her toes in the sand,” Tasha said. “This is new and exciting for all of us.”

The trip has been in the planning stages for more than a year, when the Blakley’s former church, Crosswinds Community Church, elected to sponsor trips in conjunction with Make-A-Wish Foundation for Rylee and a second special-needs youth from the church.

The church raised money to finance the trips through its annual Battle of the Food Trucks fundraiser, the family said.

This was the first time a church has sponsored a Make-A-Wish trip locally, said Bridgette Curtis, southeast New Mexico coordinator for the group.

Though Rylee is non-verbal, “she has her own way of communicating,” sister Brooklyn said. “And she loves to watch me and always wants to do what I’m doing. When I used to swim, Rylee always wanted to swim, too.”

The family was surprised when they got the call, Jeff said.
 “It kind of caught us off guard,” he said. “We’ve never taken a trip like this before.”

Tasha agreed.

“It’s new and exciting for all of us,” she said. “I felt very blessed and excited for the opportunity.”

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