Blessen Arnold Wins Dream Trip To Disney With Kidd’s Kids

Thursday, October 17, 2013
Blessen Arnold
Blessen Arnold

Blessen Arnold’s face is never without a smile or laughter.

Even though the Dalton's City Park third grader was born with spina bifida and has been in a wheelchair her whole nine years of life, she does not let that hinder her bright spirit.

“You can’t help but fall in love with her,” said Blessen’s second grade teacher, Jaclyn Wilson. “She’s an amazing kid, and she has an amazing spirit.”

Ms. Wilson said even when Arnold’s electric wheelchair goes out and the teachers have to push her—both Blessen and Ms. Wilson admit the City Park teachers aren’t the best of wheelchair drivers—Blessen will just laugh and smile.

“She laughs at everything,” Ms. Wilson said.

Blessen has had other things happen in her life that have not yet broken her famous smile—the Arnold home was burglarized when the family was in the process of moving and everything inside was taken.

“Even my piggy bank,” Blessen said. “I was mad. My face was red.”

Last June, Blessen also lost her mother to diabetes.

One thing her mother was working on before she passed was trying to get her daughter the chance to go to Disney World through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“It’s my dream,” Blessen said about going to Disney World.

To help make that dream a reality, Ms. Wilson decided to sign Blessen up for Kidd’s Kids—a Foundation started by Kidd Kraddick that takes disabled and seriously ill children between the ages of five and 12 to Disney World each year. Kraddick, who was the morning host of the syndicated radio show "Kidd Kraddick in the Morning" heard locally on Hits 96.5 FM, died earlier this year from heart disease while at a fundraising event for Kidds' Kids.

Ms. Wilson heard about Kidds' Kids after listening to the morning show and decided to enter her student and see what happened.

To enter Blessen, they had to send in photos and write letters of support.

After months of waiting, Blessen heard the news she had been waiting to hear. She was going to Disney World.

“It’s my dream to go to Disney, and it’s coming true,” she said. “I was like, ‘Oh man, oh wow.’ I was screaming. My granny was screaming by herself. She was so happy.”

Blessen, her grandmother, Brenda Teasley, and her sister, Zaria, a student at Morris Innovative, will be going on the Disney trip from Nov. 21-25.

Fifty children across the nation were chosen for the trip that includes all costs such as airfare to Orlando, hotel, park passes, all meals, transportation while in Florida, souvenirs, special private character visits and more.

While donning a pair of mouse ears, Blessen told the princesses that she could not wait to meet— Tiana from The Princess and the Frog, Merida from Brave, and her favorite princess of them all, Cinderella, of course.

“I’m going to meet her first,” Blessen said of Cinderella.

Blessen said her first stop will be the Magic Kingdom, and then she will make the venture to Fantasyland.

“She knows her Disney princesses,” Ms. Wilson said. “I’ve never been at her house when the TV wasn’t on the Disney Channel.”

Blessen said her favorite show is Jessie.

“It’s funny,” she said of the Disney show.

When they found out about her selection for the trip, the school broadcasted the announcement on their morning show.

Said Blessen: “They were all like…” and made a surprised openmouthed face.

Planning her trip to Disney is not the only thing she does. She also likes to sing at her church, Community Fellowship Church, and play softball at Miracle Field. “I’m so excited on game days,” she said of her love of softball. “I’m happy all day.”

Before Blessen departs for Orlando, City Park will be having a Disney Day to celebrate with her. Everyone at the school will have the chance to dress up like their favorite Disney character.

Ms. Wilson said Blessen has always been a well-known figure at City Park.

“I’d see her go down the hall, and everybody would be waving at her. Everybody knows her. You can’t help but to know her. She’s our star,” said Ms. Wilson.

But Ms. Wilson said once she won this trip, she has become even more popular. “Even the kindergarten kids wave at me,” Blessen said.

“I don’t know if you can handle this fame, Bless,” Ms. Wilson joked with her. “When I come back, I’ll have to give you my autograph,” Blessen said with a smile.

“She’s never been, ‘Oh poor me, poor me,’” Ms. Wilson said. “She’s so deserving of this.” Said Blessen: “My mom would be happy that I’m going to Disney.”



Cleveland State Debate Team Brings Home Awards

The Cleveland State Debate Team has something to smile about. The team just returned from two tournaments with three trophies! The team recently attended the Smoky Mountain Debate Tournament at Walter’s State Community College where Team Captain Alex Olive won fourth   place in the Novice Speaker Awards competition in a field of over 100 students. The team also attended the ... (click for more)

Mission: Remission Presents Students Opportunity For Remembrance, Awareness

For this year’s sixth annual cancer awareness fundraiser, Mission: Remission, GPS and McCallie students convened on McCallie’s campus to honor those affected by cancer. GPS Student Council President Blythe May introduced the student speakers of the event: Charlotte Vance, Max Ransom, and Ryan Crump.  Charlotte spoke from personal experience about her battle with childhood ... (click for more)

Man Shot Multiple Times In Cleveland; Jesus Teague, 14, Is Arrested

On Saturday, at 6:12 a.m., Cleveland Police Department responded to 1210 Elrod Place SE in reference to a domestic disturbance.   A man sustained multiple gunshot wounds and was transported to Erlanger by Life Force. His condition is stable, at this time.   The suspect, Jesus Tyler Teague, 14, was located and was in custody as of 3:25 p.m. ... (click for more)

Travis Caslin, 42, Shot While Walking Along South Willow Street

Chattanooga Police said a man was shot on Friday night while walking along South Willow Street.   The victim was identified as Travis Caslin, 42.   At 7:37 p.m., Chattanooga Police officers were called to a local hospital after a person showed up with a gunshot wound.   Police were informed that the victim's condition was non-life threatening. ... (click for more)

October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Myth And Fact Check

My husband and I recently had the privilege of participating in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in Chattanooga. I listened as my husband told the audience about how his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when he was nine and how she died from the disease when he was fourteen. As a child, my husband didn’t understand what breast cancer ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: It’s All About People

The leaders of Hamilton County’s Mental Health Court held a heart-warming open house Friday afternoon and it was announced that just since February, the creation has saved the county over $3 million in incarceration costs. But to hear County Mayor Jim Coppinger or Judge Don Poole tell it, that’s not what is important. “Soon after the court started, a kind, quiet man I’ll ... (click for more)