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Local gym asks community to help them grant a childs wish
make a wish pic
Grace Hopkins, 4, and her sister Abigail, 2, get a view from the pilots seat of a Southwest Airlines plane on the way home from a Make A Wish trip to Disneyworld in April. - photo by Photo Contributed

Grace Hopkins is just 4 years old, but she has already had to endure a lifetime of challenges. When Grace was 18 months old she was diagnosed with Vater Syndrome, a rare disorder that affects multiple organs of a child’s body.

Grace has severe scoliosis, was born with just one kidney, has an enlarged aorta and an anterior anus. She has already had one surgery on her back and will have another major surgery when she turns five to remove two vertebrae in the lumbar region of her back and replace them with metal bars.

Frequent trips to various doctors and hospitals for tests is a reality of Grace’s day to day life. In April, however, Grace was able forget about all her medical problems and live like a princess.

Grace was the 2011 Brenda Athletic Clubs Make A Wish program sponsored child. Brenda Athletic Clubs, through community-wide fundraising, helped grant Grace’s wish to visit Disneyworld.

“It was such an amazing experience,” said Grace’s mom, Kayla Hopkins. “She loved it. It made her forget all the things she has to go through on a day to day basis.”

Brenda Athletic Clubs helped set the mood for Grace’s big trip by throwing an under the sea themed going away party for her at the gym. Once in Florida, Grace, her mom, dad and 2-year-old sister got VIP treatment at Disneyworld, and also visited Sea World, Universal Studios and Animal Kingdom.

“Grace was escorted through the presidential hallways at Disneyworld where Mickey and Minnie came and surprised her and took her back to their suite for a photo shoot. She also got to be a part of the ‘Lion King’ show at Animal Kingdom and showed everyone in the audience her ROARRRR like a lion! There were so many special moments that will always be in our hearts and never forgotten,” said Kayla Hopkins.

“Thanks to the Make A Wish Foundation this was possible; Grace tells everyone she knows about her ‘special wish trip.’”

Brenda Athletic Clubs is hosting its annual Grant A Wish Celebration and fundraising event at both its Modesto and Turlock locations on Saturday.

The clubs will be open to the public from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. There will be waterslides, pool games, dunk tanks, bounce houses, raffles and giveaways. All donations and proceeds will go to the Make A Wish Foundation to grant a wish for a child in Stanislaus County.

Brenda Athletics in Turlock is located at 201 Tampa St. and the contact number is 668-3838.