Brighton girl's wish for dream trip to Alaska comes true

Madison Wegener suffers from pulmonary hypertension

By Lauren Podell - Reporter

BRIGHTON, Mich. - Before the sun came up on Wednesday, a white stretch limo pulled up to the curb at the McNamara Terminal at Detroit Metro Airport.

Kid Rock wasn't inside, neither was Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander. This shining star goes by the name of Madison Wegener. She's 8 years old and going on an all-expense paid trip to Alaska.

"I am really, really, really excited," said Madison.

But the luggage tags on this families suitcases aren't the kind you fill out.

They are purple and blue and say "Make A Wish Foundation," because this trip is anything but ordinary.

"It was nice to see the smiles this morning," said Madison's mom, Cheryl Wegener. "It is so nice to just forget about the drama and be able to enjoy a family trip."

For the next 10 days, the Make A Wish Foundation will allow the Wegener family to enjoy a trip to Alaska to visit Madison's Aunt Mary Beth, who's lived there for years. 

"I never see her," said Madison. "We want to fish, go whale watching, look at glaciers."

While she has adventure on the brain, with every suitcase this 8 year old moves, every high five she gives her dad, Madison's heart is working overtime.

She suffers from pulmonary hypertension, better known as PH, in other words the vessels around her heart get kinked like a garden hose.

"Her blood doesn't flow properly through the heart vessels and one side of the heart has to work a lot harder than the other, weakening it," said Rob Wegener, Madison's dad.

Mom and dad have to mix their daughters medicine, making she gets the proper dosage several times a day.

The backpack Madison is bringing on the plane with her isn't filled coloring books and crayons, it's what helps keep her alive.

"This pumps medicine right where she needs it, multiple times a day and keeps her heart beating regular," said Rob.

Medicine, equipment and gadgets needed 24/7, forcing the Wegener's to travel with a few extra suitcases then the typical family.

"We have two suitcases full of her medicine," said Cheryl. "Another filled with machines and another with batteries for her machines."

But Madison has a smile that lights up a room, look at her you'd never know she was sick.

"The doctors say she's one in million because so few children battle these things," said Rob. "But she's one in million for so much more."

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