Update: News 19’s Make A Wish Telethon scheduled for June 16 has been moved to June 23. The article has been updated to reflect that schedule change.
FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Two hundred eighty-eight children in Alabama are waiting for their wishes to be granted by Make-A-Wish. Eighty-nine kids are waiting in North Alabama.
Madilynn Atkins is one 5-year-old, whose wish just got granted this week.
She wanted a playhouse, and she got one; complete with electricity, air conditioning, and plenty of room for Madi and her friends.
Wish Granting Day is an emotional one for those closest to Madi. She was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma at just 15 months old. She spent nearly an entire year in the hospital undergoing treatments.
“If it weren’t for our good Lord, she wouldn’t be here,” dad Nathan Atkins said.
“Eight rounds of chemo, three-port lines, three nephrostomy tubes, three stint attempts, and a surgery to save her kidney and save the ureter tube. 80% of the mass was removed, and on Day 269 we packed up room 516 at Target House and came home,” Madi’s mom, Kelly Vinson said.
Madi’s wish request was accepted in January, but as Make-A-Wish North Alabama Development Director Lacy Fitzpatrick said, it takes a village to bring these wishes to life.
“A whole community came together to make this wish come true, to make this wish happen. You can feel the love in those wishes, and it’s so special,” Fitzpatrick said.
“It’s kind of breathtaking. It’s awesome the way people come together like this to do something for our daughter,” Atkins said.
Two of the many volunteers are Ashley Cosby and her father, Tommy. Tommy is a retired contractor who built the playhouse.
“Every time Make-A-Wish was mentioned when Dad would be at a store buying the wood or paint or anything, people would say, ‘you don’t owe anything,” Cosby said. “It’s paid for by people being so generous and knowing this is going to bring so much joy to a little girl who has gone through so much.”
Tommy set a goal. Even though the deadline was August, he said the playhouse had to be done before May 23, which is Madi’s birthday.
“It is amazing to see each step. He really poured his heart into it and he just, he loves to see people happy,” Cosby said.
While Madi looks at the house as a perfect place to play, her parents see it as the beginning of a new phase of life.
“It kind of feels like this chapter is ending, and we’re ready to go on,” Vinson said. “If we make it one more year, they will deem her cancer-free.”
Until then, Madi has kindergarten graduation to attend and a birthday to celebrate. That’s if her parents can get her out of the playhouse for her party.
“I’m never going to get her out!” Vinson said.
If you’re interested in donating to make Alabama children’s wishes come true, you can test “WISHES” to 243-725 at any time. You will also have the chance to give during News 19’s telethon with Make-A-Wish on June 23rd.