Eastern Iowa girl is granted Iowa's largest Make-A-Wish - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Eastern Iowa girl is granted Iowa's largest Make-A-Wish

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -

A Marion girl is getting her wish granted. The Groothuis family is heading to the happiest place on earth---all 17 of them.

"We said 'Hey, someday we'd like to adopt form Africa to help children who just are in need,'" said Brad Groothuis, father.

So far the Groothuis's have adopted eight children from Africa in addition to their seven biological kids. The most recent addition is six-year-old Esther. The Groothuis's adopted her in July, knowing she had severe seizures and other health issues.

"We felt like that was the right one for us," said Brad. "If we didn't step in and do something the situation for her was going to become much, much worse."

It's Esther's wish to go to Walt Disney World that brought the family to the Eastern Iowa Airport Sunday. Her wish is the largest one the Iowa Make-A-Wish chapter has ever granted.

"No real different, difference, than any other wish other than the fact that it takes a little bit more planning on the part of our Des Moines office to make sure that all of the family can get on the same flight, which was the biggest issue," said Andrea Brommelkamp, Make-A-Wish Volunteer.

Three of the family's other children also have life threatening illnesses, so the family has a relationship with Make-A-Wish. Before they were able to go on a trip to Hawaii.

This is the family's first trip to Disney. Esther is nonverbal and always gets excited to see animals. Her parents thought she'd love Animal Kingdom.

"Before we left Uganda I had really wanted to take her to the Entebbe Zoo," said Jenny Groothuis, Esther's mother. "It's full of African animals but she was too sick at the time and, again, because all of our children are from Africa I thought it would be a really neat thing to go to Animal Kingdom and see those African animals."

The family is glad Esther will be able to have some fun before undergoing a series of surgeries in less than two weeks.

They won't have to waste time waiting in line at the parks. By wearing their Make-A-Wish t-shirts, they get to skip to the front of every line.

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