AKRON, N.Y. (WIVB) – We all know the cast of characters in Cinderella, from the young woman who marries the prince to her fairy godmother who helps make the meeting possible.
But, the so-called Cinderella in a now-viral Facebook post turned out to be a bit of a fairy godmother herself, granting a big wish to a little girl with autism.
Layla Lester, 5, saw the woman she thought was Cinderella at Akron Falls Park last weekend, and knew just what to do.
“She just goes running over, arms wide open, [yelling] “Cinderella, Cinderella!”‘ Layla’s mom, Jessica Lester, recalled.
Layla’s “Cinderella” turned out to be Olivia Spark, who was at the park on her wedding day taking photos with her new husband.
Wedding and wildlife photographer Nicole Wickins saw the moment unfolding and started snapping pictures, which have been making their way around the internet ever since.
“I was really caught off guard because there’s a little girl that none of us had known, so I wasn’t sure if I should take pictures,” Wickins told News 4 about the moment, “But it kind of just felt like the thing to do.”
Layla’s mom says Wickins captured a beautiful moment in her little girl’s life.
Layla is a vibrant, social little girl, but because of her autism, she doesn’t always know how to interact with people, let alone strangers.
Cinderella is no stranger, though, is she?
“When she sees a princess, she’s going to love them because she loves princesses,” Jessica Lester said.
“She was just so sweet with her and just kept talking to her and asking her questions,” Lester added. “Layla loved her and she fell in love so fast.”
The moment was just as special for Spark.
“I was flattered,” she said. “I was like in tears that she thought I was a princess, and it just made my day absolutely more amazing than what it already was.”
The moment couldn’t last forever, though. Spark had to get back to her wedding photo shoot before her carriage turned into a pumpkin. “Well, we’re going to the ball now,” Spark is heard telling Layla in a video taken that day. “Bye! Have fun at the ball!” an ecstatic Layla Lester replied.
After her wedding day, Spark’s family went on Facebook to try to find Layla’s family to share photos from their meeting. It took no time at all for the post to be shared far and wide, and for Layla and Olivia to be reunited, sparking a friendship that feels like it’s out of a fairy tale.
Olivia and Layla got together Sunday morning to share their story, and Olivia brought plenty of gifts for her biggest fan, who still calls her Cinderella now.
But, the biggest gift came Oct. 13, with a magical moment in the park, a quick thinking photographer, and memories to last a lifetime with a very special bride.
“She is the epitome of what a real life princess would be,” Jessica Lester said about Spark. “She’s kind and she’s sweet and she went out of her way to be nice to Layla.”
Now, community members who have been touched by this story are working to bring even more magic to little Layla’s life.
They’ve started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to send Layla and her family to Disney World to meet all of her favorite princesses.
If you’d like to donate, click here.