May 25, 2017
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‘Mayor Manny Day’

Fourth grade Brass student receives Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World


12
BY JEFFREY ZAMPANTI
jzampanti@kenoshanews.com


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Mayor Manny is going to Disney World.

Brass Community School fourth grader Manny Rios, affectionately known by his teachers and classmates as Mayor Manny, had his dream come true with a surprise announcement in the school’s gymnasium on Thursday afternoon.

Rios was granted a luxurious, all-expenses paid trip to Walt Disney World by the Wisconsin Make-A-Wish Foundation. The 10-year-old departs with his family on June 4 for a six-night stay at the Give Kids the World Village in Kissimmee, Fla. Anna Rios, Manny’s mom, kept the vacation a secret from her son for two months.

“He has such a big heart and is so kind to people,” Anna Rios said. “He has a personality that’s really special.”

Manny earned his nickname because of his warm, friendly demeanor. It’s not uncommon for him to stop in the hallway and say hi to everyone in his path with a quick high-five or handshake.

He’s popular in the school because of his personality, but also for his courage in overcoming a variety of health issues. Manny was born with a heart defect and wasn’t expected to live more than a week, according to Anna Rios. He’s battled failing organs, a stroke, four heart surgeries, ongoing heart failure and dozens of hospital stays while keeping a smile on his face.

“Even at the hospital, he makes a special connection with the doctors and nurses,” Anna Rios said. “It’s become our home away from home.”

As Manny entered the gymnasium with Brass special education teacher Sue Bryan, teachers and students yelled “Guess who’s going to Disney World?” Mayor John Antaramian, Kenosha Unified Superintendent Dr. Sue Savaglio-Jarvis, School Board president Tamarra Coleman and several of the Rios’ family members and friends attended the event.

Rios’ fourth grade class was treated to pizza, cookies and cake. The food and supplies were donated by several local businesses.

Antaramian was so honored to share the podium with another mayor he proudly proclaimed May 18, 2017, as “Mayor Manny Day.” He invited Rios to spend a day in the Mayor’s Office when the Rios’ family returns from its trip.

“Manny runs the school and clearly the city now,” Brass’ principal Joel Kaufmann said. “He’s a special young man. While he has a broken heart, it’s a heart of gold.”Manny said he was surprised by the news. The diehard sports fan was thrilled to be receiving an autograph book and said he can’t wait to meet Mickey Mouse and go on Dumbo’s flying elephant ride.

Each member of the Rios family received a three-day pass to Disney World and admission to Epcot, Universal Studios, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. They’ll have shuttle service to the airport and priority seating on Southwest Airlines with pre-flight access to the cockpit. The family was also issued a $1,680 Visa card to cover additional expenses and $150 to buy souvenirs.

Local Make-A-Wish representatives said children are chosen randomly as the recipients. Finding someone as unique as Manny made the occasion extra special and emotional for many of the speakers.

“We were totally blessed,” said Sue Binninger, a Make-A-Wish wish granter. “He’s unbelievable. We met him last spring and he was sitting outside waiting for us. It really warms your heart and brings great joy. This is a time for these families to leave everything behind that they struggle with on a day-to-day basis and spend quality time together and have fun.”


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