Redfield Make-A-Wish child, Chloe Jessen, to meet Elsa at Disney World Resort
By Shiloh Appel
Although seven year old Chloe Jessen, of Redfield, doesn't speak, she knows what she loves. This March, she will get to meet someone she loves — Elsa, from the movie "Frozen," at Disney World in Florida. Chloe was chosen as a Make-A-Wish child, and this was her family's wish for her.
"She has her own little noises or babbles and she says a couple words. We are trying to teach her sign language," said Chloe's mom, Randi Jessen."She can't really tell us what she wants, but she loves Frozen. When it first came out she got the movie and she has loved it ever since. She doesn't watch a lot of TV, but when that comes on she [ gives it all of her focus]. So she has a lot of Frozen stuff."
Chloe's battle with health complications began at birth. Born with Down Syndrome, Chloe also battled heart and lung problems such as pulmonary hypertension. She had less than a 20 percent chance of survival at birth.
"She wasn't breathing when she came out, but [the doctors] obviously saved her life," said Randi. "I also had high blood pressure when I had her. I was kind of critical too, and they had to give me seizure and IV medications so that I wouldn't have seizures from blood pressure. That lasted about a day, and then I got better. The next day after I had her, she wasn't even 24 hours old, and she had to be flown to Minneapolis for chemo."
Chloe had a type of pre-Leukemia. She was close to receiving a bone marrow biopsy, but after one month her blood counts went back up and she was sent back to Sioux Falls. She spent eight months in the hospital after birth before she was released to go home and she has been slowly but surely growing stronger since then.
"She just learned how to walk two years ago," said Randi. "She is a happy girl and she has her bad days just like we all do. She loves to learn. She loves books. She loves people. She loves to be interacted with, just like any kid."
Throughout her seven years, Chloe has spent a lot of time at Avera McKennan in Sioux Falls. While there, she met the Child LIfe specialists who work to make every child's stay less scary.
"They go into surgery with a kid to try to calm them down. Like, if Chloe is in the hospital, they bring her toys. One time, they got shaving cream and let her just smear it all over the table and she just had so much fun," said Randi.
It was Chloe's Child Life specialists that sent her name in to Make-A-Wish. Randi explained that Make-A-Wish aims to grant the wish of any child with life-threatening conditions, and Chloe's lung and heart issues qualified her.
"If this was a couple of years ago, Chloe probably wouldn't be able to, because she was just always in the hospital and sick. She has been getting stronger as she gets older," said Randi. "[But] she is always going to have her lung and heart issues."
According to Randi, the trip to Disney World will not only include a visit with Elsa, but a few more of Chloe's favorite things as well.
"She likes to be in water and swim and she likes animals," said Randi."That can all be incorporated into the Disney [trip].We get one or two days where we can leave Disney and we might use our rental car and take her to the ocean because we are probably never going to be able to do that again."
It will be the first time going to Disney World not only for Chloe, but for her whole family — Matt, Randi, Connor (17) and Cully (10). Their stay, which will be from March 5th to March 11th, 2019, will be fully funded through Make-A-Wish.
"It is just neat that she is able to do this," said Randi.