OREM, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – Her one and only wish was to meet ‘Ursula the Sea Witch,’ but when a Pennsylvania girl with a rare combination of heart defects learned that that was not going to happen, a generous community in Utah decided to step in and help.
SCERA Shell’s stage in Orem has never looked better, but it is not the perfectly placed props or vibrant colors of ‘Disney’s The Little Mermaid’ musical that make it shine this week. It is the goodness of a group of people granting six year-old Lily her lifelong wish.
“Ursula is purple, and with Lily’s condition, her circulation causes her to be very purple, and so I think it really spoke to her at a young age,” explained Angela Poole, Lily’s mom.
Lily once had plans to meet her hero at Walt Disney World, but when Poole learned there is no meet-and-greet Ursula at the park, she posted the conundrum on social media.
“I was hoping that I would have a mutual friend who [would say], ‘Hey, you know, I have an overweight aunt in Florida, and she could totally dress up. I’m like, ‘I will buy a costume, I’ll paint her purple,'” Poole laughed, recalling her desperation to find an Ursula for Lily.
But Poole says she never expected what happened next.
A Utah town called Orem — one Poole says she had never heard of — just so happened to be putting on a musical.
Show director Shawn Mortensen says it was more than just chance.
“All the wheels just kind of came in motion really really quick,” he recalled.
After corresponding with Lily through video messages, the volunteer actors and crew pitched in to buy her and her mom a flight to Utah.
But the rest of the community wanted in, too. Restaurants, limousine services, even the Marriott hotel contributed to make a magical memory for Lily, who seemed a little star-struck at first.
It did not take long for the purple-loving pair to connect through both despising Princess Ariel, striving for strength always, and they even ended the visit with a special gift.
“This has been the highlight of my career as a director… this is why we do this,” Mortensen said.
“Sometimes I feel we’re just a little bit lost with everything that’s going on, and I mean [Lily] is just a stranger, nobody knows her… and just to have so many people rally around and try to make her happy, I just — I can’t thank everybody enough,” Poole said, emotional.
Lily and Ursula’s big day out did not end there. They also ate lunch together, went to the aquarium, and Thursday night, Lily and her mom will watch the big show at the SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre.