BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Eight-year-old Zabulon Grace was treated to a Make-A-Wish send-off party to celebrate his upcoming trip to Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
"I really want to see Disney on Ice," said Zabulon as he grinned with excitement.
The party was hosted by Margaritaville, which provided refreshments and loaded game cards for children to use in their ESCAPE arcade center. The Disney trip is being sponsored by the IP Casino Resort & Spa in partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Zabulon enjoyed pizza and ice cream while surrounded friends and family, including his 9-year-old brother Tristan and his twin sister, Zykeria. They will also join their brother on the trip, set for November 20-26.
In his hometown of Biloxi, he is better known as Zay.
"Zay is well known by the community, from food giants to the local police," says his mother, Tanya Grace. "He paints, plays sports, and will talk your head off. Regardless of what he's going through, I haven't changed up his routine at all. He's the happiest child there is."
After experiencing medical complications for years, Zabulon was diagnosed in 2011 with cancer after physicians discovered a tumor in his brain. His mother says he lost his vision on Christmas Day of 2015.
"He has had 17 surgeries so far. From February to May 2017 alone, he's had 10 surgeries. The doctors realized he was getting critical and decided to put in a request to Make-A-Wish, so this is where we are now. We're just taking it day by day."
Despite his diagnosis, Zabulon's positive energy leaves a lasting impression of everyone he meets.
Two of his teachers from Gorenflo Elementary made sure to drop by and join the festivities. Together, they told stories of how Zabulon continues to inspire those around him.
"He's a literal angel on Earth," said Dr. Stephanie Newell, an educator at Gorenflo Elementary. "His favorite thing to say is 'I know how you look, you look beautiful'. My gosh, it takes you less than a minute to feel his energy."
Karen Dronet, a teaching assistant, recalled, "He loves to sing his gospel music all day long. He would walk up and down the halls, singing My God is Awesome, one of his favorite songs."
For Wish Granters like Tiffany Daniel, the best part of the job is meeting children like Zabulon and making their dreams larger than life. "Giving them these great opportunities and seeing their reactions is the most rewarding feeling," she said.
Tanya Grace credits the love and support of her family and community for making this celebration possible.
She notes, "That plus strong faith is what gives me the strength to keep pushing for my son. He has people who don't even know him, people from overseas praying for him. That's power. That's what keeps me going."