SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – A Sarasota girl finally got her wish granted Sunday after waiting for nearly a year.
According to Make-A-Wish Southern Florida, 6-year-old Ava Melberth battled brain cancer and recently suffered through two surgeries, six weeks of radiation, and seven months of chemotherapy.
All the while, however, Melberth never gave up hope for better times, especially ones that would include a yellow Labrador Retriever puppy.
Now that she is recovering, Make-A-Wish says her wish was granted. More than a hundred people carried homemade signs of encouragement, cheered, and chanted Melberth’s name as part of a surprise celebration that culminated in the delivery of “Kiki,” a yellow Lab puppy that was delivered by a neighborhood ice cream truck.
“It’s absolutely incredible seeing the whole community come together, from volunteers to Ava’s family and friends to the ice cream truck, Wish granters, her sponsors of her wish,” said Taylor Marini, Make-A-Wish’s regional director for the Suncoast.
Nick Owens, Melberth’s volunteer Wish Granter, said Sunday’s special delivery has been in the works since January and was glad to see the community come together for a moment the 6-year-old will never forget.
“I think what a lot of people don’t know is that although Make-A-Wish seems very big, Make-A-Wish operates very local. Local dollars raised here, support local wishes given here,” Owens said. “This is important for our community because this is the community coming together saying one of our own is down and one of our own needs a wish for hope.”
Melberth’s mom says she was blown away by the support her family saw Sunday from the Sarasota community and is excited about the next chapter in her family’s life with a new furry friend by their side.
“It’s incredible. I mean all these people that we’ve never met and some that are friends that have come out just for Ava and to support her, it’s an incredible feeling,” said Gena Melberth. “It’s going to be incredible to watch them grow up together. She’s already made lists of her dog responsibilities. Walking, feeding the dog, everything.”
Gena said her daughter has always been an animal lover and has recently mentioned wanting to be a veterinarian when she grows up.
If you couldn’t tell by the 6-year-old’s reaction, the surprise celebration and four-legged delivery definitely made Melberth’s dreams come true.