PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- When a young Valley family is in the middle of the fight of their lives, sometimes the only thing you can do is make a dream come true. That’s exactly what Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad did for a sweet little princess.
“It’s back-to-school time for a lot of Valley kids but not for one very special young girl,” said 3TV anchor Heather Moore.
Last fall 6-year-old Mali started having high fevers and migraines. Two surgeries, spinal taps and chemo later, Mali’s finally been released from Phoenix Children’s Hospital, where she can continue her recovery at home.
“Let’s go surprise them,” said Moore, walking up to the family’s home.
After Moore introduced herself, Mali’s mother Monica welcomed Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad into her home.
“Do you like unicorns?” Moore asked Mali.
“Yeah,” said Mali softly.
“Do you like them a lot?” asked Moore. She handed the small girl a stuffed unicorn wearing a gold unicorn headband. “This is for you.”
“Thank you,” said Mali, hugging the toy.
Moore sat with the mother and daughter, as Monica shared her family’s heath crisis.
“Mali had been pretty sick for a little over six months, constantly tired, migraines that adults couldn’t even tolerate,” said Monica. “She was constantly being misdiagnosed. Finally, they did find a mass. Next day, she was in the operating room and they removed a tumor from her brain.”
Monica stroked her daughter’s scar and kissed her head.
“We jumped right into radiation, that very day. That will be six weeks,” said Monica. “After that we’re back to Phoenix Children’s Hospital for some high dose chemotherapy. They harvested some of her own stem cells so that when we’re in there for the high dose chemo, they can give it back to her as a way to hopefully help her recover a bit quicker. Still every day, trying to accept it, to cope with it.”
“You’ve gone through so much, your whole family,” said Moore. “So, how have you been able to manage? What kind of support group have you had?”
“It takes a whole team, a whole village to get what we need or what she needs,” said Monica. “I’m glad we at least have that help, whether it be helping when she’s not feeling good or coming to visit us or help with my other daughter. The hardest part is probably the moments when she’s not herself. That’s when you know she doesn’t feel good. And that’s the hard part. Not seeing my little girl.”
She softly showered her daughter’s head with kisses.
“I’m sorry you’re so sad, sweetheart,” said Moore, gently. “Your good friend, Jillian, nominated you. She wants you, she wants Mali, to be happy. She wants to help, and we are honored to be a part of this. On behalf of Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad and Valley Toyota Dealers, we have a gift for you.”
Monica opened the box given to her, to reveal $3,000 for medical expenses. She hugged Moore and thanked her.
“We do have one more surprise for her,” said Moore.
Monica, Jillian and Mali’s grandmother Melissa, covered Mali’s eyes and guided her outside to Tiaras N Tails’ 50 foot trailer.
“You’re going to love this!” said Moore, as the family uncovered Mali’s eyes.
“Surprise!” said Moore as the door opened to reveal a unicorn named Bliss. “What is that?”
“A unicorn,” said Mali, smiling.
“Oh, my gosh,” said Moore. “A real one!”
Mali was helped up into Tiara N Tails’ wonderland: 50 feet of costumes, tiaras, jewelry, toys and a live unicorn, dressed in fantasy accouterments, while a disco ball and specialty lights flashed on walls adorned with crowns, affirmations and chandeliers.
Mali pet Bliss, put a crown of flowers on her and played dress-up, too!
“Kids that are going through any kind of illness or any kind of hard time, need something to give them hope,” said Siiri, owner of Tiaras N Tails. They might not remember what else happened that day but they’re going to remember there’s a unicorn.”
“We thank you so much for joining us today for this very special surprise,” said Moore of the generous donation.
“I’m so happy that you guys thought of me,” said Siiri.
“She had the biggest smile!” said Jillian. “That’s the first time I’ve seen that in a long, long time. A couple of months at least. Like before the hospital visits. She’s been through so much. It’s been a long time.”
“Little Mali had let me know just recently, in the hospital, that she wanted to see, more than anything, a real, live unicorn,” said grandmother Melissa. “And she did today, with the thanks of everybody involved here today.”
“This is more above and beyond what I ever pictured for them and it was a big surprise,” said Jillian.
“Thank you, thank you,” said Monica embracing her best friend forever, Jillian.
Monica shared that the family is facing over $4 million in medical bills. If you would like to help the family with a donation go to: www.paypal.me/MalisMission
A special thank you to Tiara N Tails for donating to this surprise. For more information on how to have your own unicorn experience go to: www.TiarasNTails.com
Arizona’s Family Surprise Squad is sponsored by your Valley Toyota Dealers.