Harper is only eight years old and has already had so much taken away from her due to her condition, Rett Syndrome. This condition has taken her ability to speak, to walk, to have functional use of her hands and most of her muscle strength. All in all, Rett Syndrome has taken away any hope of an independent life for Harper.
When she was around a year old, Harper’s parents recognized that Harper was not hitting important milestones and was losing speech she had acquired and so began the years of testing, specialists and unanswered questions. Then at age four, Harper was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome. “It was both a relief that we could stop testing and deep sadness at what was to come. Our entire parenting plan did a 180,” explains Mendi, Harper’s mom. This kind of diagnosis changes how one views life, but Harper and her family have dug deep and found ways to make stronger and better versions of themselves.
One of those ways is finding joy in the little things and for Harper that is spending time outside going for walks, playing at the park and especially going swimming. Harper loves being in the water and lights up whenever she gets to go swimming. So after her neurologist referred her to Make-A-Wish North Dakota, it was not hard for her wish granting volunteers to decipher what she wanted as her wish. “She was pretty excited upon the first visit of our wish volunteers -when they came over to surprise her you couldn’t wipe the smile off her face,” says Mendi. Harper wished to have her own pool and loved getting to watch the process of her wish becoming a reality.
For Harper this wish come true is so much more than just a nice thing to have. This pool is therapeutic for her muscles and helps provide additional physical therapy at home. But even more importantly it means a place where Harper can move freely right alongside her family and peers. “This wish meant a great deal to our family…It means whenever Harper is in the pool she can just be a kid with all other worries aside. She can swim alongside her sisters, no different than them in that moment,” sums up Harper’s mom.
Harper’s family also wanted to express to all those who help make wishes come true – “You are making a huge difference in the lives of so many kids who are faced with substantial medical hurdles. You are making a huge difference in the lives of their family members. You are giving these families a reprieve from their worries, rest from their daily battles, time away from hospitals and specialists and the acknowledgement that they are fighters and you are right there beside them.”