Maddie’s Make-A-Wish comes true


Caroline Vranas

Maddie, Cooper, and the Special Olympics Team wave to bystanders from their parade float provided by the Tractor Club.

Caroline Vranas

Maddie Wesolowski, Lemont High School sophomore, recently had her wish of getting a service dog granted by Make-A-Wish. This included a parade in Maddie’s honor held on Sunday, September 26, starting at LHS and ending at Maddie’s house.

Maddie’s mother, Theresa Wesolowski, gave insight on Maddie’s current situation, “(Maddie) was in the hospital about nine months ago. She’s going through a lot of medical things besides the ones she had going on already, she had new ones pop up and she was in (the hospital) for a week going through a lot of testing.”

While in the hospital, Maddie found a guardian angel in the form of a nurse at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Theresa Wesolowski said,“This nurse, I have no idea who she was, who I have no idea to this day is, was a lovely person, she came and she fell in love with Maddie. She said Maddie would be great for Make-A-Wish. She goes ‘Do you mind if I recommend her and I sponsor her?’ so she called Make-A-Wish and told them and Make-A-Wish got in touch with us right away.” 

This anonymous nurse started the journey that ended in Maddie getting her wish granted. “This all came about because of this one nurse at the hospital, this was at Lurie Children’s, and it was, it’s just turned out beautiful,” Theresa Wesolowski said. 

So how did Maddie end up getting a service dog and a parade? Theresa Wesolowski said, “So they asked her ‘What do you want?’ and she had it already picked out in her head that she wanted a golden retriever and she wanted to name him Cooper and she wanted a boy, and they go, we can do that. And she goes and I want to have a really big parade so everybody can see me and Cooper. And well, here we are. That’s how it happened.” 

Maddie also received money from Make-A-Wish to care for Cooper and train him to be a service dog. “They gave her 200 dollars to buy things for Cooper’s care, whether it be food, toys, whatever he needed. They gave her another 130 dollars to do his basic training at Petsmart, she gets 1000 dollars in healthcare for the first year, so that means all his shots, checkups, everything for the first year. She’s got her 2000 dollars and then of course they helped do this parade,” said Theresa Wesolowski.

As for the parade, it had an amazing turnout. Members of the Marching Band, Cheer, Sparkle Teams, Fire and Police Departments, Tractor Club, and Lions Club participated, along with community members and their dogs. A Dog Toy Collection was held to collect toys for Cooper and many community members chose to spectate the event. 

News of Maddie’s parade spread throughout the community and resulted in some community members contributing to the parade in big ways. “These signs here by Card My Yard, two days ago they called me and they go, ‘We want to be a part of this, we want to do this for Maddie.’ Last night they showed up and set up those big cards on both sides,” said Theresa Wesolowski.

On Make-A-Wish’s official website they state that their mission is “Together, we create life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses.” In Maddie’s case, Make-A-Wish has succeeded in their mission. Theresa Wesolowski said,“Maddie’s going through an awful lot right now, and she goes back into the hospital next week, and Cooper’s heaven sent, and it’s all because of Make-A-Wish. I am so… it’s gonna make me cry, I am so grateful for these people. They’re beautiful, beautiful people.”

Residents were encouraged to walk in the parade with their dogs and dress for the occasion. This dog went all out in a festive tutu and hat. (Caroline Vranas)