But that is exactly what happened to Katie Browder.
Katie has Turner syndrome, an X chromosome disorder that only affects females. Turner syndrome affects one out of every 2,500 live births.
Her dream was to attend the annual Turner Syndrome Society conference. The conference is held in a different city every year and this year, it was being held July 12-14 in Dallas, Texas.
Katie and her mom, Amanda, reached out to the Times-News about her story. An article titled “Katie’s Dream” ran at the beginning of June. The response to the story was overwhelming for the entire Browder family.
“When the article ran, my phone, my Facebook and my emails exploded,” Amanda said. “I couldn’t answer my phone. I would be like OK, that’s a strange number and they would leave messages. I’ve got all the messages saved so I can contact them back.”
Katie received a lot of donations from people all over the region. They were collecting every donation and putting it back. Some of the fundraisers were doing well, but Amanda started to get so worried about unaccounted-for expenses, like gas, she thought she was going to have a nervous breakdown.
But then she got a call that changed everything.
The family had driven to Gatlinburg and were eating at a local restaurant when Amanda got a call and stepped outside to take it.
When she came back in to her family, tears were streaming down her face.
The Hill family, who own Toyota of Kingsport, had called and told Amanda they would pay for plane tickets for the entire family to fly down and back.
It was Katie’s first plane ride. Well, it was the entire family’s first plane ride.
“It was awesome,” Katie said. “I got to sit by the window.”
When the family arrived at the conference, Katie was ecstatic. Amanda had a hard time letting her go by herself, but knew she had to let Katie be with other Turner girls her age
Katie quickly made herself a new friend, Hannah. Hannah lives in Chicago and while the two were there, they were almost inseparable.
Katie and Hannah talk all the time now. Amanda and Hannah’s mom bonded as well.
“It felt good to say I had a friend to talk to and to be there for me,” Katie said.
She is also a big Dallas Cowboys fan, so while she was in Dallas she got a picture in front of the new Cowboys stadium. She also tried ice skating for the first time with Hannah helping her the entire time.
The conference was also good for Amanda. She attended classes with other parents of girls with Turners. It was good for her to know some of the things Katie does is a part of the syndrome.
“It was good for me to be able to go,” Amanda said. “It was good for her because she got to socialize.”
When the article ran, Katie and her mother were contacted by multiple girls with Turner syndrome from around the region. Those girls felt like Katie did, that there were no other girls with Turner syndrome in the region.
Enough girls contacted the Browders that Amanda and Katie are starting a Turner syndrome support group.
They haven’t set a meeting date or place yet, but they are in the process of contacting the other girls and setting a date and time.
The trip to Dallas was everything Katie dreamed it would be. She enjoyed it so much, the family has already started saving for next year’s conference in Jacksonville, Fla.
The Browder family knows none of this would have been possible without the help of the community.
“I would like to say thank you for everybody’s help and support in helping get me there,” Katie said. “It was really fun.”