A divorce dispute is stopping a young Tulsa girl from getting her Make A Wish granted

Friday, August 26th 2005, 6:14 am
By: News On 6

A little girl's wishful thinking has led to a divorce dispute involving her parents. The Make A Wish foundation is caught in the middle of a battle that's now headed to court.

It's a case that revolves around a trip to see Dora the Explorer. A little girl with a brain tumor wants to go see her and the Make A Wish Foundation wants to send her, but her parents are divorced and can't agree to make it happen.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan explains.

5 year old Kalei Smith is a bright eyed little girl with lots of energy. She loves to play with her stethoscope and anyone who will play with her. She knows a lot about what doctors do, because she's spent more than a year in hospitals, fighting a brain tumor. Kalei’s mother Lucila Smith: "She's been in remission since Thanksgiving, but with cancer, you never know."

Kalei's mother contacted the "Make a Wish" Foundation, which offered her a trip to fulfill a childhood dream. “They interviewed her and she said more than anything in the world, she wanted to meet Dora the Explorer." Make A Wish arranged for Kalei to see the live action version of Dora, in California. Kalei Smith: "have a tea party with her."

But Kalei's tea party is off until her father signs the paperwork and he's refusing. He's in the Army, in San Antonio, and had no comment, but Army Public Affairs says "Sgt Smith is requesting a change in location to San Antonio so that he can enjoy the experience with his daughter also. Lucila Smith says she's not willing to do that, because he's not an active part of Kalei's life. Lucila Smith’s attorney Charles Hardy: “I think he's totally mad at his ex wife and he's punishing his wife by not letting this little girl go on this trip.”

Mrs. Smith hired a Texas attorney to take him to court in hopes of forcing him to sign the papers. Kalei is too little to understand what's happened to her trip, but she's still planning on having that tea party with Dora. Lucila Smith: “To me this is for her."

Kalei's father, according to "Make a Wish" documents, objects to her mother's boyfriend going along on the trip. But it's standard practice for Make a Wish to send two adults on the trip.

The case goes to court in Texas in September.