May 14, 2014 5:06 pm

Girl with rare neurological disease gets wish fit for a princess

CALGARY- A seven-year-old Calgary girl with a rare neurological disease has found out that sometimes, wishes do come true.

Siann Thompson-McNeill and her family will be going on a Disney cruise later this year, thanks to the generosity of TransCanada employees and the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada.

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Siann was chosen because of her brave battle with Rasmussen’s encephalitis, which causes frequent seizures. She began experiencing seizures at age three, and sometimes suffered up to 40 a day. She fell just as often, meaning she soon had to wear a helmet for protection.

“After one of the seizures we asked Siann, ‘what would you like to be when you grow up?’ And she said, ‘I’d like to be a mermaid’” remembers her father, Garth McNeill.

“We said, ‘why would you like to be a mermaid?’ and she says, ‘mermaids don’t fall down.’”

The only treatment for Rasmussen’s encephalitis is brain surgery, which disables a hemisphere of the brain. Siann underwent the surgery, but emerged paralyzed on her right side. She is now re-learning everything from walking to talking, with her left side.

“She’s in Grade 1, she’s re-learning with her left hand because she had to re-learn how to write,” explains mother Jacquie Thompson. “Reading is coming along slowly, but it’s amazing how far she’s come.”

On Wednesday, Siann learned about her upcoming trip made possible by charitable donations. At a special presentation in the TransCanada lobby, she received an Ariel doll, tiara and Little Mermaid blanket. TransCanada employees also presented the Children’s Wish Foundation with a cheque for $23,000, and some of the money will be used to grant another child’s wish next year.

The Children’s Wish Foundation grants wishes to more than a hundred Alberta children a year, and about 1,100 nation-wide.

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