On Oct. 13, New York newlyweds Olivia and Caleb Spark visited Akron Falls Park between their wedding ceremony and reception to take photos. “Suddenly, this little girl ran up to Olivia shouting, ‘Cinderella, Cinderella!’” photographer Nicole Wickins tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I wasn’t sure if I should take photos, but the girl’s mother was watching and seemed OK with it.”
The girl was 5-year-old Layla Lester, who has autism and, according to her mother, Jessica Lester, often has difficulty connecting with strangers. “When she sees a princess, she’s going to love them because she loves princesses,” Lester told Alabama news station WIVB. (The mother told Yahoo Lifestyle that she was not available for comment at the time of publication.)
“Well, we’re going to go to the ball now,” Spark told Layla in a viral video of the meeting.
“I was flattered,” Spark, who did not return Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment, told WIVB. “I was in tears that she thought I was a princess, and it just made my day absolutely more amazing than what it already was.”
The next day, Spark’s mother-in-law shared the story on Facebook.
“The little girl … told Olivia she was beautiful and wanted to touch her dress,” wrote Angela Spark. “My son and daughter in law and their wedding party were moved to tears by this little girl. Their photographer took photos of the little girl and they spent some time with her. Then Cinderella explained that they had to go because she had a ball to get to. Olivia and Caleb would like to find this mother and her daughter so that they can give her some photos from yesterday for this little girl to keep. Please share this with anyone you may know from Akron in hopes of finding her.”
Attention from the post prompted a GoFundMe page called “Help Send Layla to Disney World,” which has raised more than $3,000 to date.
On Oct. 16, Layla, her mother, and Spark reunited in the park, appropriately at a pumpkin structure that mimicked Cinderella’s carriage. “We weren’t sure if Layla would recognize Olivia without her gown, but as soon as she pulled up, she yelled, ‘Cinderella is here!’” Wickins tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
The now-friends were overjoyed and even made plans to have lunch soon, according to Wickins. “Layla said, ‘OK, as long as there are cookies.’”
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
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