The father of a 4-year-old Ohio leukemia patient has refused to allow her to take a long-sought Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World, saying the money should be spent on kids who are still terminally ill, the Sentinel-Journal reports.
McKenna May was all set to go after completing two years of leukemia treatment, reports the newspaper in Bowling Green, Ohio. But her father, William May, of Toledo, has refused to give his permission.
"Spend the money on a child who this might be their last memory," May says. "Kids who are only going to live a year or six months."
The Make-A-Wish foundation normally requires signatures from both parents, except when one is unknown or cannot be located.
The issue appears to be caught up in a domestic dispute. McKenna's parents never married or lived together. Her grandmother says the father only recently received visitation privileges, the Associated Press reports.
The Sentinel-Tribune's Jan Larson McLaughlin writes that McKenna was diagnosed with leukemia in April 2010 and underwent her last treatment last month.
The two-year ordeal has included 15 spinal taps, multiple chemotherapy treatments, and steroid injections.
She won't be ruled "cancer free" for five more years.
Whitney Hughes, McKenna's mother, says she has withdrawn her "wish" request and is hoping to raise the $3,500 she needs through collection jars at local businesses.
The family plans to drive instead of fly in order to save money.
"The important thing is to get her there," says McKenna's grandmother, Lori Helppie. "She loves Mickey Mouse. She loves Cinderella."
"She's really excited," Helppie tells the newspaper. "It's all she's talked about for the last three months."
Update at 2:18 p.m. ET: "I don't remember anyone who has said, 'no the child is healthy now, they don't get the wish.' A lot of times kids have to wait until they get better and healthy before they are able to go on the wish," Mark Hiegel, Make-A-Wish national communications manager, tells USA TODAY's Natalie DiBlasio. "It's not something we track, but I have never seen it and our mission is to grant the wish of every child. This is an unusual case."
If McKenna's mother were to get approval from the court to move forward with just one signature, Make-A-Wish would grant the wish, Hiegel says. "We leave it up to the experts. How can we pick between two parents?"