How Make-A-Wish Illinois fulfilled Antioch 10-year-old's dreams

  • Make-A-Wish Illinois and volunteers recently transformed Antioch's Mazie Leonard's room into a haven for reptiles.

    Make-A-Wish Illinois and volunteers recently transformed Antioch's Mazie Leonard's room into a haven for reptiles. Courtesy of Make-A-Wish Illinois

 
Submitted by Make-A-Wish
Posted9/21/2021 6:00 AM

When Mazie Leonard, 10, of Antioch met a friend's bearded dragon, it sparked an interest so intense she wrote a book about it.

Her curiosity about reptiles only grew as she learned more, and soon she was tending to her own bearded dragon, a salamander, and other small reptiles.

 

Thanks to Make-A-Wish, Mazie now has a beautiful new room where she can hang out with friends, both reptilian and human.

Diagnosed with a life-threatening autoimmune disorder about five years ago, Mazie often experiences severe joint pain and had surgery to help her mobility. Mazie's medical team put her in touch with Make-A-Wish.

Mazie's family was not at all surprised when she shared her wish for a room makeover so she could study more reptiles, and happily rearranged some space in the home to accommodate her vision.

One of Mazie Leonard's new additions to her room was a ball python.
One of Mazie Leonard's new additions to her room was a ball python. - Courtesy of Make-A-Wish Illinois

The Make-A-Wish team got to work transforming the area to a herpetological haven for Mazie and her scaly friends. They added several new tanks, reptile themed décor and even a couple of new pets, a ball python and a tortoise, with room for more.

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The team was advised by a reptile rescue and other knowledgeable reptile owners, and several area businesses donated supplies.

Make-A-Wish Illinois recently made dreams come true for Mazie Leonard, 10, of Antioch, who loves reptiles.
Make-A-Wish Illinois recently made dreams come true for Mazie Leonard, 10, of Antioch, who loves reptiles. - Courtesy of Make-A-Wish Illinois

On her wish day, Mazie was delivered to her home by a fire truck to a street lined with cheering supporters. Mazie was overwhelmed with joy when she got her first glimpse of the room. As she looked around, she quickly noticed her new pets and was excited to get to know them and show them off, carrying her snake around as she introduced it to family and visitors.

Mazie's wish is one of several hundred wishes granted by Make-A-Wish Illinois this year. Her condition is among the more than 150 critical illnesses that qualify a child for Make-A-Wish.

Hope is medicine for children with critical illnesses. A wish helps kids look past their limitations, helps families overcome anxiety and helps entire communities experience joy.

Most importantly, according to recent research, wishes can improve a child's quality of life. Make-A-Wish Illinois is committed to reaching every child with an eligible condition.

Volunteers with bilingual language skills, especially those fluent in Spanish, are needed to help grant wishes. To refer a child or volunteer to help children in your community, visit wish.org/Illinois.

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