GARRETTSVILLE, Ohio – A little girl suffering from cardiomyopathy enjoys a weekend at a rodeo, thanks to Kids Wish Network.
Ten-year-old Elizabeth was born with a heart defect known as cardiomyopathy, which is a deterioration of the heart muscle. After waiting for six weeks in the hospital, she received a new heart. Elizabeth did well with her new heart until she was about six years old, when she went into cardiac arrest and it was determined that she had developed coronary artery disease in the new heart. She was again put on a transplant list and spent four months in the hospital. She was sent home to await her next transplant. In June of 2006 her family received word that there was a heart available for her. After a seven hour surgery she had a new heart.
Despite everything that she had endured as a very young child, Elizabeth remained bright and as active as she could. She developed a taste for playing outdoors and, though her parents were still a little worried and protective of her and her condition, they were proud that their little girl had made it through everything so far.
After finding out about Kids Wish Network, a charity that grants wishes to children who suffer from life-threatening illnesses, through a family member, Elizabeth’s parents jumped at the chance to give something special to their very deserving daughter.
When Kids Wish Network Wish Coordinator Jill asked Elizabeth what she wished for, Elizabeth replied that she wanted to visit a rodeo. Jill took this to heart and went to work finding some sponsors who could make the little girl’s dream come true.
One particular sponsor named Art worked very closely with Jill and the city of Orange, Virginia to make sure that Elizabeth’s wish was fulfilled in spectacular fashion. Between the two, with the help of countless other generous people and organizations, it was decided that Art would bring Elizabeth and her family from Ohio to Virginia, where they would ride horses, explore James Madison’s Montpelier home, tour the Luray Caverns and Zoo, visit a farm and finally, to top it all off, enjoy a full blown rodeo!
“We all had a wonderful time, Elizabeth had a wonderful time,” said Elizabeth’s mother, Betty. “She [Jill] more than fulfilled her [Elizabeth’s] wish. We couldn’t have asked for better sponsors…We made a lot of friends out there.”
Every day was packed full of outdoorsy activities for Elizabeth to enjoy, and enjoy she did. “Most of the nights we didn’t get in bed until eleven,” exclaimed Betty. “It was a lot more than we expected, but it all just worked out so well!”
Art and Jill really outdid themselves and, come the day of the rodeo, there were some extra surprises to be had for Elizabeth.
“The whole city was there,” said Betty. “There was a letter of Congress [for Elizabeth] and she was the first recipient of the key to the city of Orange! That was very special…she was the town celebrity.”
Though a little embarrassed by the attention at first, Elizabeth grew to like it and when the rodeo started, she was really into the celebratory feel of the day.
During the show, the cowboys in the rodeo all got together and signed a shirt for their small fan; she was given a bright yellow cow-fighting shirt and so much more! “The rodeo really topped a great week off. The whole week was wonderful!”
While in Virginia, Elizabeth fell in love with all the action she witnessed at the rodeo and, upon arriving home, she went outside, hopped on her pony and rode off like the cowgirl she feels she is.
“This was a rainbow in the middle of everything else [all the medical procedures and worries],” said Betty of her little girl. “I can’t put into words how wonderful this was for her [Elizabeth]. Thank you all so much!”
For helping to make Elizabeth’s wish extra special, Kids Wish Network would like to thank the following: Art & Melanie Magner of Breckenridge Farms, Tractor Supply of Orange, Kelly’s Ford Equestrian Center, James Madison’s Montpelier, Luray Caverns, Luray Zoo, Pizza Hut, The Farmer’s Wife, Oakland Heights Farm, Silk Mill Grill, The Town of Orange, Virginia, Holiday Inn Express, Pisa Group, LLC, Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. and Steve’s Amazing Grace.
Kids Wish Network is a nationally recognized non-profit organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children. If you know a child between the ages of 3 and 18 who may be in need of its wish granting services, please call 727-937-3600 or toll free 888-918-9004. For more information on Kids Wish Network, visit their website at www.kidswishnetwork.org