He had one wish.
Not three, as in the fairy tale, but one: Dominic Scicchitano just had to choose and it would happen.
He thought long and hard. Everything was possible. What did he, Dominic, a 9-year-old from Zion in love with basketball and trains, want more than anything? At last, he made his decision.
He was going to Disney World.
Never miss a local story.
And so began his own magical story.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation spirited Dominic; his 14-year-old brother, Ethan; and their parents, David and Susan, off to five days in a faraway realm, a land of wonder and surprise and endless ice cream. They recently returned to Earth.
“Everything I did, I had a huge smile on my face,” Dominic said.
Once upon a time, he had a broken heart.
He was born with switched main arteries. All that kept him alive was another flaw, a hole between chambers called a ventricular septal defect that, barely, mixed enough blood and oxygen.
Just one month into his life, open-heart surgery at Geisinger Medical Center’s Janet Weis Children’s Hospital repaired both problems. At 1, he became a 2006 Janet Weis Children’s Hospital Miracle Kid, appearing on a telethon.
Eight years later, he leads a normal life. His heart still beats below par. It leaves him short of breath when exercising. It requires regular visits to a cardiologist.
But it can sing — as it did under Dr. Mickey’s care.
“He was just in awe,” Dominic’s mother said. “He was just so happy.”
She started it, applying online to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The next day began a month of working toward the news of dreams: He qualified. The foundation waved its wand.
Dominic turned into a prince.
Two local Wish Granters visited. Bruce Rohrbach and Holly Temple brought presents and peace of mind. They explained everything, took care of everything, all the travel and lodging arrangements.
In Pittsburgh, another Wish Granter escorted them onto a jet to Orlando, Fla., the first to board. Neither Dominic nor Ethan had ever flown. Before takeoff, Southwest Airlines plunked Dominic down in the pilot’s seat.
He arrived at a palace, a full villa in the Give Kids the World Village, a storybook resort where children with life-threatening disabilities enjoy free fantasy vacations.
Dominic stepped into a dream.
Right behind his villa was the pool. There was an arcade full of sports games, and a chef who made deluxe waffles, and an ice cream parlor open all the time, all you want. Even for breakfast. They gave surprises every day, like stuffed animals, games, souvenirs.
It got better.
At the Magic Kingdom park, he rode the famous monorail and the Walt Disney World Railroad. He swooped and dropped on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride and the newest roller coaster, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom park, he saw lions, cheetahs and giraffes in an open savannah from a tram and took a behind-the-scenes tour from another train. Down a rushing river he tumbled, soaked by the Kali Rapids Ride.
At Epcot, he climbed aboard a “clamobile” and explored The Seas with Nemo and Friends ride and aquarium. He also saw the best fireworks and light show ever, the IllumiNations: Reflections on Earth display. That was cool.
So many highlights packed into less than a week, so many thrills, it’s hard to pick — just like at the NBA City Restaurant gift shop at the Universal Orlando theme park.
“I’m like, ‘I want to pick everything. I’m too confused,’ ” Dominic said.
In the end, among other loot, he chose a Tim Duncan shirt and a Kevin Durant jersey, in honor of his two favorite players.
He also took home too many memories to count.
“Despicable Me,” “Transformers” and “Harry Potter” 3-D rides. The Disney Typhoon Lagoon water park. SeaWorld Orlando, the Shamu show and sharks.
And, everywhere, the royal treatment.
Disney employees are renowned for being welcoming and helpful, but Make-A-Wish shirts and buttons crank them up into overdrive. Nothing was too good for the Scicchitanos.
They found themselves whisked past lines even with FastPass ride reservations. At the Wolfgang Puck Café in the Downtown Disney shopping district, a chef brought out a dessert made specially for Dominic: a giant brownie cake with ice cream, caramel and fudge frosting.
“He felt very special,” Susan Scicchitano said. “He felt like the king of the whole week. And they made him feel that way, which was extra special.”
Her husband is a State College police detective. He had been to Disney World before, but it took him a little while to accept the friendliness around him at face value. He’s used to deceit, to seeing the worst in people.
In Florida, he saw the best.
“I can’t speak highly enough of Disney and how we were treated,” he said.
One adventure after another, leading to more than 900 photos, brought them to their only sad moment: leaving it all behind. For many years, probably for the rest of their lives, their first family trip will be the stuff of legends retold over and again.
“I watched their faces the whole time,” David Scicchitano said of his family. “I knew coming down, it was going to be the trip of a lifetime, and it was.
“It was a good wish.”