Kailey’s wish comes true

Oct. 13, 2013 @ 09:54 PM

A little girl’s wish came true Sunday in the form of a backyard play set to call her own.

Kailey Eaton is your average second-grader. She’s a little shy but loves playing with her friends. Kailey is a dancer, practicing tap, jazz and ballet, and she’s a gymnast.

And Sunday Kailey had a wish granted thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Blue Bunny ice cream. Along with family and friends, Kailey celebrated the granting of her wish and the journey that she and her family have endured so far.

The new play set has a twisting slide, a wall-climbing area with rope, a bridge with two swings, monkey bars, a small tree house with a ladder and a tire swing.

Before all of her guests arrived, Kailey made her way across the monkey bars and twirled a bit on the tire swing. She even took a few trips down her twisty slide, punctuating the ride with laughter.

To watch her play, it’s hard to tall that Kailey spent the past year or so battling leukemia. Kailey’s father Brian Eaton, a firefighter with Durham Fire Station #1, said that the past year has been a whirlwind to say the least.

“It started on March 14, 2013,” he said. “We were at the doctor trying to figure out what was going on because Kailey was really congested and sick. We thought it would be a sinus infection or a bad cold.

“Cancer’s not really on the list of things and from that point started this saga.”

Brian Eaton said that between March 14, 2012, and March 14, 2013, Kailey spent about 200 days in the hospital.

“It was a real rollercoaster,” he said.

“I’m unbelievably happy,” said Carey, Kailey’s mother. “To see where we were last year to now, it’s great to be home and to have her here playing. I’m unbelievably happy.”

Prior to Kailey’s having her wish granted, Make-A-Wish Foundation volunteers who got to know the family and figure out her wish. One of Kailey’s volunteers was Sarah Buchanan.

“The volunteers get the fun part of coming back and celebrating with the family,” Buchanan said. “They’ve been fantastic. At the time, she (Kailey) couldn’t go to a public playground because of the germs so she missed hanging out with her friends.”

Kailey invited some of her family and friends to help her break-in her new play set. Blue Bunny sales representative Ray Llabona brought ice cream to help celebrate.

“This is great,” he said. “It feels great to be a part of an organization like this.”

Wells Enterprises is the maker of Blue Bunny ice cream and part of its celebration of 100 years is making the wishes come true for 100 children with life-threatening medical conditions. Wish-granting events are taking place across the country.

Ken Baroff, vice president of development for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, was blowing up balloons for the afternoon celebration.

“This is what it’s all about,” Baroff said. “We talk about the core mission of granting kids’ wishes and how many kids we’ve ahelped but when we come and see some one’s dream realized, it’s why we do what we do. I’m here for the mission. I’m here for the days like today.”

Watching their daughter smile and play, Brian and Carey Eaton said that the support they received from family, friends and the medical community have been unbelievable in helping them deal with Kailey’s illness.

“We’ve had an unbelievable amount of support from these (Make-A-Wish Foundation) guys, the fire department …” Brian Eaton said. “It’s been a real blessing for us with family and friends’ support.”

Brian Eaton said that Kailey’s doctors have advised them to look forward to July 2014 and Kailey’s doing even better.

“It’s been a journey,” Carey Eaton said. “In the end, we’re so thankful for the connections that we’ve made. We don’t take any friendships for granted.”

Now Kailey is back in school at Mangum Elementary. Why did she want a backyard play set?

“So I would have something to do while my daddy was working in the garage and to play with my friends,” she said. “I’m very, very happy.”