At the age of 3, Amelia has one thing that she loves to do more than anything else – play outside with her brother.
Hot or cold, rain or shine, Amelia wants to be outside, but based on hazards in the family’s backyard, Amelia’s mother Mary has always worried about Amelia’s safety.
“Playing with her older brother is the thing that brings Amelia the most joy every single day,” Mary said. “She is such a spunky girl, always running around in our yard and she loves the outdoors. But due to recent storms and a dead tree in our backyard, we haven’t been able to allow Amelia outside to do her favorite thing.”
Born with a congenital heart defect, Amelia was granted a wish from Make-A-Wish Arizona: a new, fun backyard with updated equipment and safety features where Amelia and her friends could run and play.
“I wanted this to be a place that only sees the ability in children, not their disabilities,” said Mary. “Amelia is so young, and I hoped she could have a wish that would always be a part of our lives.”
Amelia’s wish granter Tommy, a Phoenix fire fighter, enlisted the help of the Phoenix Fire Dept. Training Academy for her wish. Almost 30 members of the class removed nearly 45 tons of debris from the backyard to make it for the backyard of Amelia’s dreams.
“It means so much that volunteers would do so much for my child – a person they didn’t even know,” Mary said.
“Amelia knows only five words but she is able to call Tommy by his name,” said Mary. “She would see his truck pull up at our house and immediately run to him and give him a hug! The connection they’ve created truly speaks volumes about how much Make-A-Wish Arizona can impact a child’s life.”
Although Amelia helped out with little tasks during the renovation, the finished product was unveiled at a surprise party. According to her mother, the look on her face the moment she saw her new backyard was priceless. She smiled and did a little dance because she was so overjoyed.
“Every morning, no matter the temperature, Amelia is outside in our new yard. Sometimes it is so hot I don’t even want to go out there!” Mary said with a laugh. “This is a place that’s going to be there for Amelia as she grows up.”
After lots of teamwork and dedication, the finished product includes artificial turf, new furniture, a playset, and plenty of room for Amelia and her brother to run and play.
“The backyard has an amazing view of the sunset and it’s really heartwarming to sit outside at the end of the day and hear the laughter of these kids having fun,” Mary said.
Amelia’s favorite part of the new yard is her sand box that can fit 14 kids at one time.
“She loves to explore and play with her big brother,” Mary said. “It’s a space where we can laugh, make memories and enjoy what life is truly about.”
Amelia still visits the fire station to hang out with Tommy, where she plays dress up with his uniform and helmet.
“I’m so grateful Tommy has become a part of our lives,” she said. “He truly cares about Amelia and he really took the time to get to know her.”
Mary looks back on her experience and says it was so phenomenal it inspired her to become a Make-A-Wish Arizona wish granter.
“This wish has brought me and my family so much joy I can’t even put it into words,” she said. “I think I’ll pass that torch to another family now.”