‘It’s time to go to Disney!’

Kwalei and his “million-dollar smile” headed to Orlando

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

* Photo gallery – a Disney/DQ celebration
* Video: What is Tetralogy of Fallot?
* Rockingham teen manages Tetralogy of Fallot

ROCKINGHAM — Jeanna Cloninger had a simple question.

“What time is it,” she inquired of young Kwalei Reynolds.

The 4-year-old Hamlet boy glanced proudly of his new Disney “Frozen” watch. Of course, he’s not quite old enough to tell time, but Cloninger had posed somewhat of a trick question. You see, she already knew the answer.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Kwalei Reynolds, 4, of Hamlet, was born with tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary artesia.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Kwalei Reynolds, 4, of Hamlet, was born with tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary artesia.

“It’s time to go to Disney!”

Clutching his new plush Olaf from his favorite Disney movie, Kwalei beamed.

Cloninger and 17 family members and friends filled Rockingham’s Dairy Queen Wednesday evening to help Kwalei prepare for the trip of a lifetime. The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central and Western North Carolina, represented Wednesday by volunteers Ron “Boomer” Davis and Cindy McKenzie, granted Kwalei’s dream trip to what he expects to be his favorite place.

Davis and McKenzie came bearing gifts from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, including the watch, a matching fleece blanket and more.

Tincia Reynolds, Kwalei’s mother, said the family has backup copies of Disney’s “Frozen” because her son watches it so frequently.

“He was so excited,” Reynolds said when Kwalei learned of going to Olaf’s Florida home — and Dairy Queen, the king of the frozen treat, seemed like the most appropriate place to celebrate.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Kwalei Reynolds, 4, poses with Jeanna Cloninger, Dairy Queen store manager (right), and the rest of the evening crew Wednesday in Rockingham.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Kwalei Reynolds, 4, poses with Jeanna Cloninger, Dairy Queen store manager (right), and the rest of the evening crew Wednesday in Rockingham.

Kwalei and his mom will be joined in Orlando by his father, Brandon Reynolds, Kwalei’s brothers, Terrace Spencer and Erin Miller, and Grandma Pearleen David. They will leave June 23 for a one-week, all expenses-paid trip to Disney World.

While in Florida, the Make-A-Wish Foundation will pay for a rental vehicle, food, souvenirs and lodging at the Give Kids the World facility, a 70-acre, nonprofit “storybook” resort with all the Disney characters. It will be the family’s first visit to Disney World.

The family members were joined Wednesday at Dairy Queen by extended family, including: Grandpa Walter Miller; cousins Dante Davis, Dadriene Davis, Angie Bostic, India Bostic, Tiara Bright and Torian McKenzie; Grandmom Sharon Miller; Aunt Ayonna Miller; Aunt Nankeen Burch; best friends Angel House Gamel and Gabel Gamel; and family friend Wanda Dockery.

Kwalei, who won’t turn 5 until Dec. 9, was born with tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary artesia. In short, it’s a congenital heart defect. In long terms, it’s treatable through surgery. Tincia Reynolds said the doctors at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte wanted to put Kwalei on the heart transplant list. But his body is too small, and too weak, to receive a new heart.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com It was a family affair and celebration among friends, too, as Kwalei Reynolds, 4, prepared to head to Disney World.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
It was a family affair and celebration among friends, too, as Kwalei Reynolds, 4, prepared to head to Disney World.

Kwalei’s heart stopped beating for six minutes during a routine MRI.

“He has to be a little stronger,” Tincia Reynolds said.

* * * 

Cloninger, DQ store manager, and the employees donated the ice cream cake that Kwalei and family and friends celebrated with on Wednesday. But it’s not even close to being the only time the local store, owned by Patricia Waterman, helps the community.

* July 7 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., a portion of the profits from sales during this time will benefit Richmond County 4-H.

* All day on July 30, a portion of profits from all sales will be donated to the Children’s Miracle Network. Last year, that effort raised nearly $3,000.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Kwalei Reynolds shows off his new "Frozen" watch to Jeanna Cloninger, store manager at the Rockingham Dairy Queen.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Kwalei Reynolds shows off his new “Frozen” watch to Jeanna Cloninger, store manager at the Rockingham Dairy Queen.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Kwalei Reynolds shares details about his favorite movie, Disney's "Frozen," with Make-A-Wish volunteer Cindy McKenzie.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Kwalei Reynolds shares details about his favorite movie, Disney’s “Frozen,” with Make-A-Wish volunteer Cindy McKenzie.

Filed in: Business, Featured News, Hamlet, Health, Latest Headlines, News, Rockingham

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