Upon meeting with her Make-A-Wish volunteers, Maddie’s first idea for a wish came as a funny surprise to the volunteers and to her family. Maddie originally wished for cake.
“She didn’t really get the concept of a wish,” Maddie’s mom, Amber, said. “In her eyes, a wish is something you do at a birthday party when you blow out candles and get cake. She had no idea that it could be something bigger than that.”
Maddie is a five-year-old girl, who was diagnosed with both Down syndrome and Grave’s disease. This caused her to have a high heart rate that required medication and made her emotional and unable to gain weight.
“She is so laid back, easy-going and doesn’t get upset unless she really gets her feelings hurt,” Amber said. “But she would cry because she couldn’t get her shoes on or because we told her no. She was very emotional, very unlike herself.”
Madalyn had her first surgery at nine months old and has had three major surgeries since, including the removal of her thyroid. Even so, Maddie has remained a positive, confident and fearless light in her family. She lives with her mom and dad, Lonny and Amber, and her brother, Hayden (3). She loves music, dancing, swimming and exploring the world around her. She’s a social butterfly at heart and loves to spend the day playing with her family.
Although she has trouble communicating verbally, she uses her smile and excitable energy to let you know just how much fun she’s having.
“She deserves whatever she wants,” Amber said. “She’s been through a lot. I thought ‘what do I have to lose’ and referred her for a wish.
“I really didn’t think she would get it. The kids I take care of (as a nurse) every day deal with their illness on this grand scale. Even though that’s not the case for Maddie, she has been fighting her entire life. I thought the worst thing they could do would be to tell me no.”
Shortly after the referral from her mother, Make-A-Wish responded to Amber and worked to set up a meeting with volunteers and a wish reveal to follow.
Originally, Amber talked to Maddie about a Disney wish, but Maddie wasn’t too interested in that idea.
“One thing you have to understand about my daughter is that she’s very humble,” Amber said. “She doesn’t care about amusement parks or characters or anything like that. She likes very simple things and just wants to spend time with her family.”
After few days, Amber and Lonny would set out a picture of Disney World, a dog and a pool. Every time Maddie was shown these pictures, she always selected the pool.
Maddie and her family have enjoyed the pool every day since the reveal. Because she has Down syndrome, the pool has an added health benefit. Kids with Down syndrome have low muscle tone and the pool gives Maddie a place to build those muscles and increase her strength.
“It’s good for her health and it’s good for her soul,” Amber said.