For 8-year-old Ryan Muller of East Penn Township, life hasn't been simple or easy. Doctors diagnosed craniosynostosis, a birth defect in which the joints between the bones of his skull had closed prematurely, before his brain was fully formed. Ryan was born without the soft spot that most infants have that allow the brain room to grow as the child's body matures.
Ryan has suffered from headaches and faces the possibility of future surgeries to prevent blindness when his brain grows and pushes on the optic nerves.
With beautiful blonde hair covering his head, the physical effect of his disability wasn't as noticeable until all of his hair fell out at age four, which gives him the appearance of a person much older person. None of the hair has grown back.
Ryan has adapted to losing his hair and for him, life has settled into attending classes at East Penn Elementary School, playing baseball and playing with his neighborhood friends.
Ryan's life recently changed for the better for a week when he was granted a wish to visit Florida attractions by Dream Come True - Blue Ridge Chapter. Ryan especially wanted to see Legoland and have a meal at T-Rex Cafe, a new restaurant in downtown Disney.
"We forgot about doctors for a week," said his mother, Maryann Muller. "Our lives are lived around doctor appointments for Ryan and his sister, Kayla. We seldom have a full week without having doctor appointments for one or the other."
The family's trip was sponsored by Dream Come True, Blue Ridge Chapter, a local wish granting organization, which grants dreams to children with chronic and terminal illnesses. The organization provided the airline tickets and spending money and worked hand in hand with Give Kids The World in Florida to give the family a vacation to remember.
They stayed at GKTW resort, a special resort that caters strictly with families with sick children. The resort has its own Gingerbread House, ice cream parlor, Pizza Hut, miniature golf course, full size carousel, movie theater, swimming pool and more.
"GKTW was the best part of the vacation," said Ryan's father, Ken Muller. "They couldn't do enough for us. We had breakfast and they carried our trays. We couldn't life a finger."
Each day the children were given a new toy or game, and when Kayla celebrated her birthday, she was given the opportunity to receive a birthday gift of her choice even though she was not the "dream" child.
"We met people there from all over the world," said Ken. "It was an amazing place."
The family's trip started off on a high note when they asked to have their seats on the airplane changed so the family could be seated together since it was the children's first flight. Airline personnel complied by upgrading them to first class.
When they arrived in Orlando, they were upgraded to a minivan instead of a car.
"We couldn't believe our luck," said Maryann. "We were so happy in Florida, we didn't want to leave to come home."
Ryan has lots of souvenirs and gifts from his trip. Each day GKTW had a special gift or game for the children to enjoy. And with the ice cream shop open nearly around the clock, the children had ice cream several times a day.
Ryan's dream to see Legoland was accomplished through GKTW which provided free passes for the day to the family.
"We would have had to pay $300 for all of us to go that day," said Maryann.
"We can't thank Dream Come True and Give Kids the World enough," said Mrs. Muller. "We enjoyed every minute of our trip and Ryan enjoyed being the center of attention."