Malakhi’s “Magic Moment:” Daphne High School special needs student receives magical surprise trip

By Jessica Vaughn
Education Editor
jessica@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 4/25/22

DAPHNE — Friday began just like any other for 15-year-old Malakhi Washington. The Daphne High School freshman made his way to the gym at 8:30 a.m. for what he thought was a school pep …

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Malakhi’s “Magic Moment:” Daphne High School special needs student receives magical surprise trip

Malakhi Washington poses for a photo with Donald Duck at the Daphne High School on Friday after Washington was surprised with a free trip to Disney World through Magic Moments, an Alabama-based company that provides children diagnosed with chronic, life-threatening illnesses with opportunities to live out their dreams.
Malakhi Washington poses for a photo with Donald Duck at the Daphne High School on Friday after Washington was surprised with a free trip to Disney World through Magic Moments, an Alabama-based company that provides children diagnosed with chronic, life-threatening illnesses with opportunities to live out their dreams.
MICAH GREEN / GULF COAST MEDIA
Posted

DAPHNE — Friday began just like any other for 15-year-old Malakhi Washington. The Daphne High School freshman made his way to the gym at 8:30 a.m. for what he thought was a school pep rally.
What he got instead was the surprise of his life.
The band played as the cheerleaders formed a tunnel that Washington made his way through. When he reached the end, he found Daphne Mayor Robin LeJeune waiting to greet him. Beside him was Donald Duck.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I have a very special announcement to make for a very special young person," said Principal John Comer. "On behalf of the City of Daphne, on behalf of the Baldwin County Board of Education, on behalf of Daphne High School and Magic Moments, Malakhi, you are going to Disney World."
Applause thundered through the gym as the entire student body of Daphne High stood in the bleachers and cheered. Washington's family members hugged him and shook his hand. The moment was magical.

But nothing could beat the smile that spread across Washington's face.
Washington has hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the brain's cavities. Cerebral palsy affects his legs. But he doesn't let it slow him down.
"He's a loveable kid, and the only time you can tell he's sick is when he's not smiling," said Washington's mother, Tiffaney Baker. "Just to come in that gym and be in there, to see the love and support from Daphne High School, the City of Daphne, the Baldwin County Board of Education, it was just amazing."
Baker put things into motion a few months back when she wrote Magic Moments. Magic Moments is the only wish-granting organization solely dedicated to children in Alabama with chronic health issues. Anyone can refer a qualifying child between the ages of 4 and 18 to make their wish come true.
"He's fascinated with Disney movies, and his brothers love Black Panther, the Avengers, so he loves the same," said Baker. "He has an 18-year-old brother, an 11-year-old brother and a 6-year-old brother, so he's learning from all different age groups."
After sending the application to Magic Moments, Baker waited while the review process took place. Her application spoke of Washington's tough journey, but she said that she wouldn't change anything. She described the obstacles her son has overcome and how proud she is of him.
"He's an amazing kid," said Baker. "We have our good days, we have our bad days. When I first had him, I didn't think I could do it, but now, as a mother, it's just been amazing. He's taught me more than I've taught him."
While keeping the secret from her son has been a challenge, Baker said the level of involvement in the reveal was a welcome surprise to her as well.
"I didn't know how epic it was going to be," she said. "I didn't know the whole school was going to be involved, but I loved it. I'm thankful, and that's why I love Daphne."
Baker wasn't the only one who felt that way. Kimberly Etherton, Mobile regional director, Magic Moments, was blown away by the response from the community.
"This might be one of the top reveals," she said. "It is one of the top reveals, it might be the top. That was incredible. I mean, to see (Washington's) smile, that was amazing. He just brings so much joy, and that's what we need, that's what we're trying to do. It was incredible."
If anyone had any question about how the morning went, all they had to do was look at Washington. Even long after the reveal, he continued to smile. When asked if he was looking forward to his Disney trip and if it was going to be fun, his response was immediate and filled with excitement, "Yes!"
Magic Moment's "Beyond the Moment" program's purpose is to help make wishes come true for children with chronic life-threatening illnesses in Alabama. These wishes come true at no cost to the families. To donate to Magic Moments or for more information, visit www.magicmoments.org.

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