HARMONY, Maine — She dreams of a pink playhouse with a loft, a porch, a spiral staircase, purple flower boxes and pink furniture, a place for some quiet time to read.
That dream of Caitlin McKenney, who turns 9 on Tuesday, will become a reality thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. In fact, she’s getting not only a playhouse later this year but also a parade in her honor on World Wish Day, April 29.
Caitlin, who wants to be a surgeon to help others when she grows up, had a Wilms’ tumor which caused her to lose a kidney and introduced her to chemotherapy. She had her last treatment in October and has her six-month checkup on her birthday.
‘’She has an excellent prognosis,’’ her mother, Tracy McKenney, said Friday. ‘’This whole thing has never slowed her down.’’
Only one or two times did her daughter complain about the pain, Tracy McKenney recalled.
‘’She’s just always been upbeat. She knew that it was something she had to deal with, and she dealt with it,’’ she said.
Bad headaches, sharp stomach pains and fatigue sent Caitlin to the doctors a year ago in June. Tests were conducted without any signs of problems before the tumor was diagnosed in June 2010.
‘’It’s just a bump in my life,’’ Caitlin said during an interview last year.
‘’Kids seem to handle it [life-threatening illness] sometimes with more grace than adults,’’ Lisa Gleeson, communications manager of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Maine, said Friday. Rather than lie on a couch and think about the time they have left, they face their sickness and think they’ll get better so they can play with their friends, she said.
According to Gleeson, World Wish Day is special because it’s the anniversary of the wish that inspired the creation of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. A 7-year-old child from Phoenix, Ariz., got his wish to become a police officer that day in 1980. Wishes will be granted in 36 countries on the anniversary, she said.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation in Maine typically grants a wish every five days and those wishes cost $6,000 on average, all funded by private and corporation donations, according to Gleeson. She said the money raised in Maine stays in the state.
The wishes range from grand schemes such as a little girl’s wish to search for the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland to a young boy’s simple wish to sit on a tractor in a John Deere factory, Gleeson said. ‘’It’s our mission to make sure we’re fulfilling that specific child’s wish,’’ she said. ‘’The point is to bring them hope, strength and joy’’ and it gives them a focus other than their illness.
That focus for Caitlin has been on designing her playhouse, according to her mother. She has studied colors of paint and swatches of materials and made sketches of the building. She is equally thrilled that a parade is planned, Tracy McKenney said.
That’s what the Make-A-Wish Foundation is all about. The wishes are like ‘’medicine for the soul,’’ Gleeson said.
All organizations, fire departments, marching units and others are being asked to help make the 4 p.m. parade a special event by participating. For information, call Mary Ellen Chadbourne at 683-5873.