One happy, happy, happy girl gets her Duck Dynasty wish granted
MAYNARD, AR (KAIT) - A lot of last minute preparations were going on at the Kerley household Thursday afternoon.
Family and friends were gathered in anticipation to see 10-year-old Zoe have her wish granted by the Make-A-Wish foundation.
"Some days you can look at her and it's just impossible to believe that she's sick," Zoe's mom, Star told Region 8 News.
But she is. Star explained that Zoe is less than one than 10 million children to develop pulmonary hypertension.
"It takes your breath away in more ways than one, this disease does. It's evil," Star said.
For Zoe, doctor's still don't know why. Her condition is idiopathic so even after testing, the cause is unknown.
"The summer right before she was diagnosed she learned how to ski. She was fine all summer long, y'know," Star said. "There was no signs that there was anything wrong."
Early that fall, however, Zoe had her first episode during the first soccer practice of the season. Her symptoms: shortness of breath, low oxygen and a high heart rate.
"She just could not keep up. And that's how a lot of these kids start. It's so benign to start with but it's so serious if you're not listening or if you get a doctor who's not listening."
Thankfully for the Kerley's, doctors were listening and diagnosed her just weeks later.
"Most of these kids will go two or three years without a diagnosis and that's two or three years wasted," Star said.
Since Zoe was diagnosed so quickly though, she could start taking the medications she needed right away. For now, she takes them by mouth, multiple times a day. Two in the morning, two in the afternoon and three at night.
"The next step is probably an IV that feeds straight into the heart," Star explained.
The only cure for pulmonary hypertension is a double lung and heart transplant.
"Average life span after diagnosis is 5 years," Star said. "We're going for more than that."
Zoe knows what odds she faces, yet it's Star and Jeff's 10-year-old daughter that carries them most days.
"Zoe has a great faith," Star said. "One of the hardest conversations is she'll tell ya...'I'm not afraid to die...because I know I'm going to heaven.'"
A ten-year-old girl coping with a possibility that most adults can't accept.
"We haven't been able to be angry...because if she isn't, we can't. We're heartbroke, but we can't be angry," Star said.
Zoe's faith is very similar to that of a well-known Christian family, The Robertson's of Duck Dynasty.
It's that family that Zoe centered her wish around, a Duck Dynasty room makeover.
It's something she knew was going to happen but not something she expected when she got home from school on Thursday.
Zoe was greeted with a special recorded message from Martin with Duck Dynasty to let her know about a surprise upstairs.
"Hey Zoe, on behalf of the whole Duck Commander Crew, your wish has been granted, Congratulations!"
Walking into the room, Zoe's mouth dropped in surprise. Literally speechless about the transformation, she soaked in the orange, green and camo room.
Not only did the Duck Commander Crew send Zoe a signed Duck Dynasty hat, they also sent her multiple posters and decorations for her room.
Though the reveal was a quiet one, it was one that made her and her family happy, happy, happy.
"This is her Make-A-Wish...but it affects all of us who have loved and watched her go through this. We get to watch just happiness," Star said.
The annual Have A Heart Wish A Thon will take place Friday with bucket brigade locations all throughout Region 8.
Donations to the Make-A-Wish Foundation will grant more wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses like Zoe.
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