“We couldn’t have afforded to go without this,” said Mike Hamilton, her father.
Whitney, a second-grade student at Deer Creek Prairie Vale Elementary School, was chosen out of all students who raised more than $150 to help cure heart disease in a five-state area. She raised close to $200 as a first-grade student, dedicating it to her grandmother who died of heart
Her parents were told she won the trip almost two months ago, but had to keep it a secret from Whitney until Friday. Prairie Vale students were asked to wear Disney or Prairie Vale clothing to the assembly where she was told about the trip.
“I had no clue,” Whitney said. “I was like, ‘What is going on here?’”
Whitney’s initial reaction of tears of happiness turned into excitement as she tried to plan when her family would be going on the trip, asking her mother if they could go tomorrow.
“She wanted to go right away,” said Joanna Hamilton, her mother.
Whitney will take her parents and her older brother, Lance, on the trip, which will last four days and three nights. She already has been assured the trip will be based on whatever she wants to do, and Lance promised her he’d ride any ride with her that she wanted.
“Anything you want to do at the park,” he promised Whitney, giving her a hug. “It’s all your day.”
The trip to Walt Disney World won’t be the only first for Whitney on the trip. She’s not only looking forward to meeting the Disney characters, but also to her first plane ride and her first trip to the ocean.
Jennifer Jones, the AHA representative who gave the award to Whitney, said it was an emotional moment for many people involved.
“I had to fight the tears back,” she said. “When I saw her crying, I started crying.”
Jones added that Prairie Vale was one of the top fund-raising schools in Oklahoma, raising $18,000 in the program. Whitney’s own dedication toward helping with that may have been in memory of her grandmother, but the unexpected result was the fulfillment of a dream.
“I can’t think of one kid in the school who deserves it more,” said Michelle Anderson, principal of Prairie Vale.