Kennewick 5-year-old gets wish to fly like Peter Pan

By Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldSeptember 10, 2013 

Years ago, a Kennewick girl pinned her wish to fly like Peter Pan upon a star.

Every night -- before tucking his daughter into bed -- Trent Maxwell picks up his daughter, Teagan, 5, and flies her to bed.

"It's really neat to see and has become her wish," said her mother, Susie Maxwell.

On Tuesday, Make-A-Wish Washington made it come true, thanks to helicopter pilot Loren Watts of Watts Construction Kennewick.

For 30 minutes, Watts piloted Teagan her parents and two brothers, Gavin, 7, and Bode, 3, over their home, Teagan's school and Badger Mountain.

Teagan was born with hypoplastic heart syndrome. The left ventricle of her heart -- the chamber which pumps blood out of the heart and through the body -- doesn't work.

"She was in full heart failure 12 hours after birth and was airlifted to Seattle Children's Hospital. That started our whole journey," said Susie Maxwell.

Since then, young Teagan has had two open heart surgeries and four catheterizations.

"Ultimately she'll need a heart transplant," said her mom.

But Teagan's beating the odds. Most children with her heart condition already have undergone transplants which, Susie Maxwell said, only last 10 to 15 years.

"We're hoping to put that off as long as possible. There's so much pediatric research going on. We're hoping there will be other options by the time we have to face a transplant," said her mom.

Teagan's doing well on seven daily medications but is facing additional surgeries. Despite that, she started kindergarten last week at Sunset View Elementary in Kennewick.

"To see her you can't tell how sick she is. She's my ball of fire. Though she turns blue a lot if she runs around too much. Fortunately, she self-limits herself," said Susie Maxwell.

Make-A-Wish solicits donations and organizes volunteers to help grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.

Terri White of Grandview and George Frankenfield of Kennewick are the volunteers working on Teagan's wish.

Soaring high in the helicopter was only part of Teagan's fun on Tuesday.

Her family also enjoyed lunch and games at Chuck E. Cheese's in Richland and several hours of bouncing and tumbling at Get Air Tri-Cities in Kennewick. They, and several friends and their parents, were also chauffeured about town in a limo donated by Cindy Tucker of Elegant Limousine in Prosser. Their lunch and time on the trampolines also were donated.

White and Frankenfield also gave Teagan's day a Peter Pan theme with two young volunteers playing the part of Peter Pan and Tinkerbell. They also found a Peter Pan costume for her to wear, complete with wooden sword.

"Awesome," was Teagan's word of the day. It's how she described her Peter Pan outfit, the limo rides, Chuck E. Cheese's, the foam-filled pits at Get Air and especially the helicopter ride.

At the end of October -- courtesy of Make-A-Wish Washington -- the Maxwell family will board a plane for Orlando, Fla., for a week's stay at Disney World.

"She's really looking forward to going on the Peter Pan ride there," said Terri White.

Teagan's parents are also looking forward to their trip to Disney World.

With her surgeries and visits to the doctor -- all in Seattle -- the Maxwells have spent a lot of time apart.

"We don't get to do a lot as a family and the medical bills eat up a lot of our money," said Susie Maxwell. "Having this week together, it means a lot."

-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com

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