By DEVIN WEEKS
HAYDEN — Jaws dropped and excited gasps could be heard throughout a sea of Mickey Mouse ears Tuesday morning when the blinds of an ABCD Daycare classroom window were drawn.
A fire truck just outside the class commenced a noisy chorus of sirens, and soon Northern Lakes Fire and Kootenai County Sheriff's Office personnel were making their way into the room.
They weren't rushing to the rescue or storming a burning building. Instead, they had a very special message to deliver to Hayden 4-year-old and cancer warrior Landon Hill.
"A wish is to be granted for a great little boy. He will be traveling quite far but with lots of great joy," firefighter paramedic Burt Maines said in a booming voice as he read a proclamation.
"So Landon, here it is, your wish to come true: You will be going to see Mickey and all his friends too. Off to Disney World you go, so wear a big grin. The fun is just starting and your wish is about to begin. So let’s go ride a fire truck as your wish begins to unfold, and know that wishes do come true and are marvelous to behold."
The room erupted in applause as Landon hugged Maines, who handed the youngster the framed proclamation to display to his peers.
“He’s not as shy about it as I thought he would be,” said Landon's great-grandmother, Joyce Knowles. "He seems happy about it, and he’s smiling."
The big Disney surprise came in the form of a wish from Make-A-Wish Idaho, a nonprofit that makes dreams come true for children with life-threatening conditions. Landon was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic neuroblastoma, a nerve tissue cancer, in March 2016 when he was only 2.
"It’s overwhelming and life changing," said Landon's mom, Madison Hill. "Disney movies got us through a lot of treatment. He loves Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, all that kind of stuff. He’s dressed up as Woody from 'Toy Story.' We’re a big Disney family."
Landon's parents knew they had been nominated for a wish, but didn't know they had been selected until they received the news a couple months ago. They kept it a secret until the reveal at the daycare, where Landon's friends and teachers decked out in Disney duds.
"To be able to give back to my child what was kind of almost taken from him, it’s a heartwarming feeling,” Madison said. "We just had the Super Bowl, and now the Super Bowl’s over, it’s like, ‘We’re going to Disney World!'”
After the exciting announcement, Landon and his parents cruised with the firefighters. Northern Lakes spokesman Jim Lyon said it was an honor to participate in Landon's big day.
“Anything we can do to support great kids like Landon we will certainly do," Lyon said.
The KCSO deputies brought their BearCat vehicle to the Hayden daycare for Landon and his friends to enjoy.
"This is the fun part of the serving and protecting of our community,” said Deputy Brad Wolfinger. "Being able to give back when we can is why we get into this."
Make-A-Wish Idaho wish granter Blaine Eckles said "this is what it's all about."
"It’s wonderful to see a community come together, to see wonderful support for this great little boy," he said. "He and his family have been going through some challenges the last few years, so it’s just a positive way to send them off in a great celebratory way.”
The family is also celebrating that Landon's cancer is in remission. He now has regular hospital visits every three months rather than every day or every week.
"He’s done with treatment now and he’s back to being a normal little 4-year-old, testing boundaries and giving me a run for my money,” a smiling Madison said.
She said the family was "overwhelmed with the love and support."
“This school’s been with us through it all. He was attending (ABCD) before he was diagnosed," Madison said. "It’s just amazing the support of the community, the fire department, the sheriff’s department, Make-A-Wish, the school, everyone. It’s just like a big happy family."