Orion Nile, 9, left, poses with his little brother Brody, 6, and his parents, Scott and Tori Nile, after the Farmington family was told they will be going on a trip to Disney World in Florida. Mark LaFlamme/Sun Journal

AUBURN – How psyched is Orion Nile to be going to Disney World?

So psyched that his parents had to keep telling him to take off the Mickey Mouse ears while posing for photos.

The 9-year-old Farmington boy and his family are going to the Florida resort after Androscoggin Home Healthcare + Hospice partnered with Androscoggin Bank to send them there.

All of this came as news to the Nile family Friday night. They thought they had just come to the Hilton Garden Inn for the hospice’s annual fundraising dinner.

“We had no idea this was coming,” Scott Nile, Orion’s dad, said.

Orion, a lively red-headed boy, has been diagnosed with leukemia. He’s in remission but continues to receive treatment.

The plan to surprise the family with the trip to Disney World has been in the works for months.

Kristin Melville, director of marketing and development for Androscoggin Home Healthcare + Hospice, came up with the idea in August.

The Nile family was filming a short promotional video for the nonprofit agency when Melville got to chatting with Orion’s mom, Tori Nile, about a recent road trip they’d taken to visit family in Florida. Melville asked if they’d gotten to Disney World. No, Tori said, they wanted to go, but the family couldn’t afford it right then. They were saving up a little each month, though. Maybe they could take the boys in three years.

Melville balked. Three years?

“My reaction was, this family needs some joy right now,” she said.

Back at the office, Melville couldn’t forget the Niles and their Disney World vacation planned for, maybe, years from now. Androscoggin does keep a Life Happens Fund for clients who need medical equipment or small items that could improve their quality of life — Orion got a video game system so he could have something fun to do during cancer treatment, for example — but the fund is small, supported mostly by employee donations. It was never meant to pay for something as big as a Disney World trip.

Melville asked her boss, Androscoggin CEO Ken Albert, if he had any ideas for helping the Farmington family. Scott works as an emergency medical technician and Tori stays home to care for the boys. Melville knew that medical costs would likely eat away at any savings they managed.

Albert brought the family’s situation to some of his board members.

One member, Paul Andersen, is also CEO of Androscoggin Bank. His brother died of esophageal cancer last year.

“So I’m very aware of the devastation it can cause to a family, as well as the financial hardship,” Andersen said.

Androscoggin Home Healthcare + Hospice asked if Andersen could help raise money for a Disney trip. Maybe he could talk with people?

Andersen and his bank’s leadership team decided the Hospice nonprofit had enough important work to do. It shouldn’t have to worry about fundraising for a Disney trip on top of that.

“We talked about it internally and thought about it and said, ‘You know what, we’re going to do it,'” Andersen said.

Androscoggin Bank agreed to contribute $5,500 — the bulk of the five-day vacation. Androscoggin Home Healthcare + Hospice will pay for airfare.

But the Nile family was oblivious to all of that until around 8 p.m. Friday. Until then, they thought they had simply come for dinner at the Androscoggin Home Healthcare + Hospice’s annual fundraiser event.

When the Disney plot was revealed at last, the Nile family stood in utter surprise as dozens applauded the plan.

“It’s been absolutely amazing,” Scott Nile said. “I still can’t wrap my head around it.”

For the rest of the night, the family — and Orion in particular — were treated like rock stars. Everyone wanted a picture of the family before they packed up their bags and headed south.

Orion, bouncing around the hall with his 6-year-old brother Brody, was asked if he was surprised by the announcement that he was going to Disney World.

“Yes,” he said, grinning. “I was.”

Then he put his Mickey Mouse ears on again and bounced on down the hall.

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