Wish Granted: Eleven-Year-Old Reaches Out in Appalachia

Post a Comment » Written on August 21st, 2008     
Filed under: News
CRYSTAL LAKE, IL (August 21, 2008) – The woman in her thirties was frightened of beginning treatments for cervical cancer, but she drew inspiration from an 11-year-old Crystal Lake girl after the two had a chance to talk recently.

“She was asking me when my hair fell out and did I throw up a lot,” says Marisa Monbrod, whose leukemia is in remission. After talking with Marisa for several minutes the woman seemed reassured. If an 11-year-old could make it through the treatments, so could she.

The woman was just one of a number of people Marisa, who attends Hope Covenant Church, inspired when she traveled to Appalachia in mid-July on a mission trip funded by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The foundation seeks to grant wishes to children with potentially terminal illnesses. Rather than make a traditional wish, such as traveling to Disney World or meeting a celebrity, Marisa wanted to go on the mission trip.

She, her parents, Rich and Maggie, and nine-year-old brother, Ricky, worked primarily at the Appalachian Dream Center (ADC). The ministry offers food, education, and other support services to families in the region around Logan, West Virginia.

The area is one of the poorest in West Virginia. According to the ADC website, the population of 26,000 has an average yearly income of only $7,900—the lowest in the state. Their unemployment rate of 20 percent is the highest.

For two days, the family sorted and gave away items, such as toys, school supplies, and sporting equipment, as well as visited shut-ins. “I liked giving everything away,” says Marisa.

Marisa’s father, Rich, says workers at the Dream Center, told him his daughter’s work was energizing for them as well. Work among the poor can be draining, but they felt a renewed sense of purpose after working alongside her.

Marisa spoke in churches as well as with many individuals during the week. “It was a little weird,” speaking in front of the larger groups, she said.

Marisa was diagnosed with leukemia in 2005. She refused to let the disease slow her down, however. Earlier this year, she broke an eight-minute-mile in a local race. Throughout her treatment, Marisa continued to compete with a local swim team.

People in her community and around the country donated items after they learned of Marisa’s plans. The Crystal Lake American Little League collected and donated $2,500, says Marisa’s father, Rich.

Motivated by the work of martyred Covenant missionary Paul Carlson, Marisa initially wanted to minister in Congo. The tense political situation and the need for her own continued treatment at the time made that trip impossible.

To read a story published before her trip, see Marisa.

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