It's a popular Andover support group for new mothers that has long offered tips on how to soothe colicky babies and organized get-togethers to connect new families in town. Now the group is widening its mission by connecting with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The Mother Connection support group has started a community outreach arm of the organization — and the group has already delivered in a big way. A 6-year-old boy from Lawrence who has leukemia wished for a Disney World trip with his family. The boy considers himself a fearless super hero and thought there would be many superheroes to meet at Disney World. His wish came true thanks to The Mother Connection, which paid all trip expenses through local fundraising events. "My son, Saul, has been a very strong boy through his journey facing leukemia,'' said mom Ampari Polanco. "It was very sad and hard to explain to him ... that he was starting a treatment that would have a big impact on his life. Saul always said he is a superhero who doesn't feel scared in any situation, and that's why he chose a trip to Walt Disney World for his wish, so he could meet superheroes.'' Saul is a fun-loving spirit. He is happiest outdoors, whether swimming with his sister or riding bikes with friends. He loves to sing. He has undergone extensive treatment for his leukemia and likes Florida because the days are full of sunshine and superhero fun. He enjoyed many rides at Disney, holding his hands high above his head and laughing with glee, his mother said. He played games, saw entertaining shows and found time for swimming. He and his family explored the various Disney theme parks and nearby Universal Orlando. Best of all, he not only met Mickey and Minnie Mouse — he met several of his favorite superheroes. He could barely contain his excitement as one of them showed him how to perfect his action hero pose.
The Disney trip let Saul and his family think about something other than leukemia.
“Every moment of Saul’s wish trip was special and helped our family so much,'' his mom said. "We were able to share time as a family and feel closer and happier together. You can’t imagine how much you can change the life of a child and family who are going through such hard times. Thank you to Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island and everyone who thinks about families like ours and does something to help them.''
Meghan Mongeau of The Mother Connection said the group has a long history of helping people in the Andover area.
"We provide educational resources, a newsletter, adventures, play groups and so much more," Mongeau said. "We partnered with Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island this year to help grant a wish for a child with a critical illness, and our outreach has been well-received." More than 100 local people gathered last March at the Wine Lab in North Andover to raise money for Make-A-Wish. Mongeau said the goal was to raise $2,000 for Saul's trip in June. That goal was far exceeded, she said.
"As an organization, we want to come together and help a child experience life beyond their illness," Mongeau said.
The TMC Cares committee also organizes “Kids & Seniors” social events at local senior citizen centers, a back pack drive and other projects to help local people.