For some children a trip to Disneyland is a rite of passage, while for others it is a far off dream.
For the Smith family of Denair it is the first and they want to expand that opportunity to another family.
It has become a family tradition for Breann and Brandon Smith to take their children to the “happiest place on Earth” in celebration of turning eight years old. When their eldest son Logan turned eight they loaded him into the car and told him they were going on a trip, but gave him no indication it was to Disneyland. They repeated the trip when their next son Mason turned eight. The upcoming year will mark Colten’s eighth birthday, but Colten is not around to mark the occasion.
In 2009, 19-month-old Colten died from injuries he sustained during a dog attack while under the care of his babysitter. While their son may have passed from this world, his presence still lives one in the acts of kindness the family commits in his memory. They routinely hold Christmas toy and school supply drives. On his sixth birthday they paid for a complete stranger’s birthday cake. On his seventh birthday they organized a Build-A-Bear party and donated 125 stuffed animals to a children’s hospital. And now for his eighth birthday, which is in March, the family is undertaking their largest project to date. They hope to send a family on an all expenses paid vacation to Disneyland for a few days of fun and frivolity.
“At first I thought is this going too far,” Breann Smith said. “But then I thought about it and couldn’t escape the idea of how awesome it would be to spread that joy to another family.”
A Go Fund Me campaign was started to help reach the goal and after just a month they are close to the end. The family is aiming to reach $5,000 to help fund the trip, which will include accommodations at the Disneyland Hotel, transportation, food, park hopper passes, a Disney gift card and a breakfast with the characters. So far the effort has generated $4,615 in donations.
“It’s amazing how many people have donated so far,” Breann Smith said. “Some of the donations are from friends and family, but some are from people I don’t know. They were just touched by Colten’s story.
“He was so young when he left us, but his memory is creating such positivity in the world and maybe that was his purpose,” she said. “That’s a pretty great legacy to leave behind.”
It’s not just donations that the Smith family is hoping to generate. They are also looking for the family that will get to enjoy the trip. They are looking for a family living in Denair or Turlock that could use a trip to Disneyland to buoy their spirits.
“We’re looking for a family that needs an uplift,” Breann Smith said. “We want to brighten someone’s life, at least for a little while.”
To nominate a family go to www.gofundme.com/coltenjames and send a message to the organizer of the campaign. The link is also the same to make donations.