Nothing makes five-year-old Abigail happier than learning new things and sharing them with others. Every day after Kindergarten, you can find her organizing her own classroom from home. She sets up her dolls, and teaches them everything she learned that day at school. Because Abigail was born with Down Syndrome, she was delayed in some elementary phases like talking. But now that she’s found her voice, you can hear this talkative little girl educating her dolls every afternoon.
Abigail was never one to let illness stand in her way, even if she had to work a lot harder to reach fundamental milestones. She had more than a few bumps in the road, including when, on top of her Down Syndrome, she was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of three. Abigail had to go through almost three years of chemotherapy, and relearn many basic feats, like walking, because the treatments made her so weak. Her mother can recollect over a dozen hospital stays due to her weakened immune system, which made it very easy to pick up viruses. Abigail had to constantly work to rebuild her strength.
It was soon after Abigail was diagnosed with leukemia that her family first learned about Make-A-Wish. Because she was still nonverbal at the time, Abigail needed a little help from her family in making her wish. It was easy for them to decide that Abigail should have a playhouse all her own – a place where she could set up her dolls, teach them school lessons, make yummy snacks, and relax after a long day. Because Abigail was still so young, they knew a playhouse would be something she could treasure and enjoy for years to come.
One day, while Abigail was at preschool, a setup crew came over to their house and assembled her dream playhouse in the backyard. The house resembled a cute country cottage, and was white with pink trim. The inside boasted a kitchen and dining area, cozy loft, and all the house necessities from a telephone to a tea set! There was even a doorbell for guests to ring, and a coat rack where they could hang up their things. Abigail had no idea about the surprise waiting for her, so when she got home, she was astonished. And then, she did something she hadn’t done in a long time – she ran. After years of relearning to walk, frail muscles, and a weak immune system, an excitement fostered inside Abigail that gave her the strength she needed to run to her new playhouse. “To see her run across the yard after what she had been through,” her mother told us, “it was amazing.”
Now, Abigail has her own special place to play with her dolls, her siblings, and her friends. Although she is still recovering from the chemotherapy treatments, Abigail is cancer free! The happiness and strength she and her family received from their experience with Make-A-Wish can always be symbolized in the little playhouse that sits out back. “I can look out my window and see it,” her mother said, “a reminder of Abigail’s excitement the first time she saw it, and a reminder of all the joy it brings her now.”
A special thanks to Lilliput Play Homes, based in Lancaster, who helped Abigail decide which playhouse would be perfect for her back yard!