Now one day, Kelly stood watching her seriously ill child Olivia sitting in the garden with her sisters. So far, so normal – until, that is, the mom saw something pull up outside the window that would shock and amaze her.
Life had started early for Olivia, as in 2011 she had been born prematurely. She entered the world weighing just over four pounds. And her early arrival would signal the beginning of a life of medical problems and difficult times ahead for her and her family.
Just a few months later, for example, doctors noticed that Olivia suffered from health complications. Her first trip to a children’s hospital would come in 2012. And in the years that followed, she was hospitalized regularly – often for spells stretching for weeks at a time.
Olivia suffers from a long list of complications, including hydrocephalus, autism, seizure disorder and motility issues. Just as worryingly, medical professionals found that she had a tumor on her parotid gland. Plus, the little girl has experienced developmental delays.
More recently, though, she was diagnosed with mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalopathy syndrome. This troubling condition causes issues for the body’s vital organs. And, heartbreakingly, in sufferers this may result in poor growth, inability to sustain nutrition and, eventually, premature death.
The latest diagnosis revealed that, cruelly, Olivia’s body will begin slowly shutting down bit by bit. In addition, the syndrome makes simple everyday tasks, such as eating a meal, incredibly difficult for her. It’s devastating news for the girl whom doctors – as well as, naturally, her loved ones – call Princess Olivia.
And her family have had to accept the inevitable – that they won’t have their precious Olivia with them for very long. “There’s not a lot the doctors can do anymore, so we decided to let her come home and be comfortable, and hopefully be able to fulfill all of her wishes. We just take it one day at a time,” Kelly explained to Inside Edition.
So mom Kelly decided to sit down with her daughter and create a bucket list – one which takes in a number of experiences that will bring happiness to Olivia during her short life. For the six-year-old, those include catching bad guys with the Denver police, riding in a hot air balloon, eating ice cream with the Denver Broncos and feeding sharks.
Since making the list, Olivia has, moreover, ticked off a number of wishes – much to the delight of both the little girl and her mother. “It’s a feeling that you can’t buy. We know that her time is limited, and we don’t know how much longer she has, but it’s incredible when we are able to fulfill her bucket list,” Kelly added.
In April 2016, for instance, the youngster spent time fulfilling her wish to chase bad guys with the Denver Police Department. Cops took Olivia out in a patrol car and even gave her the opportunity to pursue a criminal – who was, of course, played by a fellow officer.
Olivia also met local police chief Robert White, who awarded her the honor of taking over the force for a day. In addition, he promised her and her family that the boys in blue would pray for her in her brave battle against the illness.
But this isn’t the only time that Olivia has managed to put her crime-fighting skills to the test. In February 2017 the Make-A-Wish Foundation gave her the opportunity to tackle evil by becoming a superhero for a day. “She said, ‘I want to battle with Batman. We are going to battle Ursula, and we are going to battle Captain Hook,” Kelly told CBS4 Denver that month.
In order to make Olivia’s dream a reality, organizers from the foundation teamed up with staff members from a dialysis company to dress up as the youngster’s favorite heroes and villains. What’s more, they proved to be the perfect foils for Olivia – who dressed up in costume as “Bat Princess” – to step in against and save the day.
Needless to say, Bat Princess took no time to defeat all of the bad guys and saved Ariel from the clutches of evil. As the little girl explained of her mission, “Ursula was mean out there.” And as a lovely end to the experience, the whole family was then given a well-deserved lunch.
However, Olivia’s most recent adventure was the one that surprised her mom as she looked out through the window. That was because Kelly had seen a fire truck pull up outside their house. And it was there for a reason: the Denver Fire Department had come to pick up Olivia so that she could spend an hour being a firefighter with the team.
As part of the experience, Olivia was given the opportunity to assist firefighters in tackling a blaze in a dumpster while she stood at the top of a ladder. Meanwhile, mom was floored by how her daughter took to the task at hand.
“It was just amazing to see the joy and strength that God gave her to be able to walk around and be a firefighter that day. It was unbelievable,” Kelly told Inside Edition. And Olivia’s resolve was particularly impressive in view of the fact that her illness means she is often left feeling tired and doesn’t usually have the strength to walk around.
However, Kelly believes that Olivia’s strength on the day merely reflects her daughter’s overall bravery in the face of terminal illness. Despite the girl’s daily battle with life, she is, in fact, able to continue smiling throughout the pain.
And Kelly now hopes that Olivia will be able to accomplish the remaining goals on her bucket list before she becomes too unwell. “I hope that she holds out and is able to check off every single thing on that bucket list,” she said. Here’s hoping, then, that she’ll do just that.