UTAH -- Ever since he was diagnosed with an extremely rare disease, Will Abby's family knows: time with him is precious.
Will’s disease presents as spinal muscular atrophy with progressive myoclonic epilepsy.
Not knowing how much time he’ll have left, Will’s mother, Katie, says it was important they celebrate his 25th birthday in New Orleans.
"It’s really important to live life to the fullest and to create memories and lasting," Abby said.
The birthday celebration even included a parade through the French Quarter in Will's honor.
"You could not wipe the smile off his face the entire time we were there," Abby said.
Then, Will's disease decided to rain on the parade.
"It was three days of a whole lot of fun followed by 12 very challenging days in the medical ICU," Abby said.
Will suffered a complication from a procedure he had a few weeks before the trip and ended up spending more than two weeks in a New Orleans hospital.
"Southern hospitality is alive and well in New Orleans,” Abby said.
The Abby family has spent a lot of time in hospitals because of Will's condition, but they say the care in New Orleans was the best they've ever had.
"What made this really stand out for us is that the people of New Orleans wrapped their arms around us and treated us like family," Abby said.
They even said farewell New Orleans style, leaving an impression on the Abby's that couldn't go unnoticed.
"It was important to me to write the letter to the newspaper in New Orleans, so all of them would know how much their care meant to us," Abby said.
A love letter that ended with "for those who believe our country is not great...all they need to do is spend some time in New Orleans."
The full letter is available here.