Young cancer survivor is given ‘hero’ award

DULUTH, Minn. – A young girl was chosen as Kids Wish Network’s Hero of the Month from Shriners Hospitals for Children-Twin Cities for her positive attitude and willingness to succeed despite the difficult times she is facing.

Mariah, who is now 13-years-old, was adopted from China when she was 5-months-old. At 11-months-old, a bump was discovered on her leg which led to the diagnosis of osteosarcoma.

“The bump was on her lower tibia close to her ankle,” said her mom, Laurie. “A biopsy was done two weeks later that showed it [the cancer] was growing like crazy.”

Mariah went through over 9 months of chemotherapy, but at the age of 2 and a half, her leg had to be amputated. Mariah has been cancer free for over 11 years now and her mom said that she is doing well. All of her prosthetic care since the amputation has been done at Shriners and the staff nominated Mariah for their December Hero of the Month.

“She is just a very inspirational girl,” said Aimee, Child Life Specialist at Shriners. “She just did so much with her battle with cancer and still has such a positive attitude.”

The program is sponsored through national charity Kids Wish Network and it recognizes children between the ages of 3 and 18 who do not have a life-threatening illness but have faced difficult or tragic times and shown bravery or great strength. With the award, Mariah was given a certificate of honor, a t-shirt, a medal and a gift card valued at $400 to Wal-Mart.

“When a child is nominated, we do write up a short story and post it in the hospital for kids to see. It encourages staff to write up different stories for us to nominate new children and it brings our attention to children in need,” said Aimee. “To be able to do something really awesome for the kids is special.”

Laurie said that her daughter was very happy to receive the award.

“Mariah has a bit of shyness to her but when we told her, and she got her award, she was excited and just lit up,” she said. “It was fun.”

Laurie said that Mariah is a strong student who takes her studies very seriously. With the gift card, Mariah was able to purchase a new laptop that will come in handy for school.

“She used the gift card and bought a laptop and her grandma took care of the rest of the cost. She is ecstatic. She is a very serious student and wanted a little more versatility,” said Laurie.

Laurie said she and Mariah were grateful to be given the award. She was excited to hear about the Hero of the Month program and see how it has helped her daughter who has gone through so much.

“I think it helps her with her pride of who she is. To be recognized is a way for her to notice things about her. She is very grateful. She is just very aware of the things that she has in her world,” Laurie said.

Kids Wish Network’s Hero of the Month Program was designed to help little heroes who have had to face some of life’s unfortunate experiences. These children do not have life-threatening illnesses, but rather face some very sad or extraordinary circumstances. These children must be in residence or have been treated through one of our Hero facilities nationwide. If you know of a hospital, program or facility that may benefit from our Hero of the Month program, please call (888)918-9004.

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. For more information on Kids Wish Network, visit their website at www.kidswishnetwork.org.

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Kids Wish Network is a charitable organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children having experienced life-altering situations. Kids Wish Network assists children and their families through several key programs.