Montana group grants Missoula family's wish for Disney trip


MISSOULA, Mont. - It was a trip to Westside Lanes in Missoula in December that Chris Kohlman says would ultimately change his family's life.

"A man approached us from the Hope Project," Kohlman said. "They actually called him Santa Claus -- it was during Christmastime. He asked us to fill out an application, and we did."

That application came full circle Tuesday when Jayden Kohlman's fellow classmates helped him get ready for a trip of a lifetime.

"Usually when we take vacations it's for doctor's appointments, and we turn them into a vacation," Jayden's mother, Elizabeth Dozier, said. "It's nothing like this."

The family is taking a trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, made possible by the Montana Hope Project.

"The fact that the support is so great to be able to do this time and time again is really impressive. And it just shows how Montanans band together to do good," said the project's Missoula-area coordinator, Michelle Navarro.

Navarro, with the help of the project, helps grant wishes to families of children with life-threatening illnesses.

"(Jayden) has a deletion of the Chromosome One," said Dozier. "He has (a) seizure disorder and motor skill delay. Just global delays on learning. And things like that. He's also non-verbal."

But before Jayden leaves for a one-week, all-expenses-paid trip to Disney, his classmates wanted to send him off in style.

"This truly is a blessing. And a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We are very thankful for the Hope Project and Hellgate Elementary," said Kohlman. "Today is a great day. Today is a blessing."

Kohlman also has a message for the man who made it all happen.

"The guy was an amazing man. I haven't seen him since. I wish I could."

You can learn more about the Montana Hope Project online. Tuesday's wish was the 441st granted by the program since it began in 1984.

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