Drew Patchin, a 10-year-old with brain cancer, and his younger brother got the star treatment at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.
Jennifer Patchin was crushed when doctors informed her that her son Drew’s brain cancer had come back. Unfortunately, this time it was inoperable and the family was told they might have about nine months left with him. Despite the devastation brought about by the news, they decided to spend whatever time Drew had left making him feel special and collecting memories. The 10-year-old, who has ependymoma—a rare kind of brain tumor, had an unusual request. Having been featured in the local news a few times throughout his cancer battle, Drew loved the feeling of being recognized like a celebrity in his hometown of St. Louis, his mom told The Washington Post.
10-year-old Drew Patchin wanted to visit Disney World.— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 2, 2023
But his family had a bigger wish: For Drew, who has a rare brain tumor, and his brother Tyler to be treated as if they were celebrities at the park.
Thanks to one TikTok creator, the wish came true. https://t.co/4GKjMgXtF1
Keeping this in mind, the boy's aunt Debbie Schultz put out a request on Facebook to anyone who was attending Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. She wanted people to treat Drew and his younger 5-year-old brother, Tyler, as if they were celebrities while at the park. Drew's loved ones wanted to give the boys the best Disney World park experience and thanks to TikTok user Kristen Sotakoun–who goes by @notkahnjunior on the platform–it worked out in the most magical way.
"Red alert, red alert! If you are a cast member at Walt Disney World, or you are someone who is going to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party tonight at Magic Kingdom, Friday, September 29th, I need your help," Sotakoun said in a video shared online. She told her 1.1 million followers, "If you see Drew and his brother Tyler, pretend that they are famous and say hi to them. This is so wonderful and this is so easy to accomplish." News of the sibling duo spread like wildfire and the rest is Disney magic history!
The boys, dressed as Winnie-the-Pooh and Tigger, were treated like royalty, with both cast members and visitors recognizing them every 15 minutes or so! Disney employees would scream the boys' names and even ask for Drew's autograph and pose for photos. Drew even got to see his all-time favorite character, Dopey, along with other famous characters. "That was all such magic that I couldn't buy for my kids," said his 43-year-old mom.
Sotakoun, who is a 33-year-old self-described 'Disney adult' and content creator, told the outlet she wanted to use her platform for the right reasons and was so glad to help in such a small way. "I was like, this takes zero effort to make these boys' day," Sotakoun said. "I feel like I'd be doing a disservice to myself if I didn't use my platform for this kind of thing, for something good." She was overwhelmed by the support from so many people online to help these sweet boys. "Magic is so real. It was amazing to see a lot of people come together for these two boys in such a simple way," she said.
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Sotakoun's 'zero effort' video had a significant and shocking impact, according to the boys' aunt. Schultz told NBC News that less than 10 minutes after arriving at the park, the boys were treated like stars. The family was then stopped every 15 minutes by people who recognized Drew and Tyler. Even their mom couldn't believe it. "It was over seven hours of people making a big deal over them and going, 'Oh my gosh! You're famous, I get to see you. I've been waiting for you. I'm so glad I got to see you.' And then snapping selfies with them or giving them a sticker," Patchin said.
"Pediatric cancer families go through really hard stuff and something like this can make such a difference in our mindset and attitude. We're trying to make memories, have a special time together and stay helpful and positive. And this, both the night as it was happening and those reactions online, really make a difference in helping us in the fight," Patchin shared.
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