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A Make-A-Wish dream came true for Maelin-Kate Carlson, shown with her Goldendoodle puppy named ‘Penny.’ James Clemens High School raised $10,000 for Make-A-Wish in Maelin-Kate’s honor. CONTRIBUTED

James Clemens helps Maelin-Kate Carlson realize her Make-A-Wish dream

MADISON – For Maelin-Kate Carlson, the dream came true … even if she had to wait a while.

Maelin-Kate realized her dream when she received her Goldendoodle puppy, named ‘Penny.’ James Clemens High School hosted her celebration in partnership with Make-A-Wish Alabama.

At five years old, Maelin-Kate was diagnosed with a rare genetic blood disorder, which required a bone marrow transplant.

Maelin-Kate and her parents Paul and Megan Carlson applied to Make-A-Wish and first requested a Disney cruise. However, that dream was dashed because of COVID-19’s outbreak. Maelin-Kate changed her Make-A-Wish request to a Goldendoodle puppy.

Maelin-Kate already had given her dog a symbolic name — Penny. During Maelin-Kate’s recovery, her mother Megan often found heads-up pennies in random locations. “It helped me keep going each day. I felt like God was telling me everything was going to be OK,” Megan said.

After leaving the hospital, Maelin-Kate also found so many pennies that “she had to keep them in a little treasure chest,” Megan said. “She was convinced God would give her (a puppy) like He gives her pennies.”

At the James Clemens ‘reveal,’ band members, cheerleaders, dance team and students cheered as Maelin-Kate proudly drove a Barbie Jeep as she lovingly held Penny.

“Over the last few years, James Clemens Student Council has raised monies through the Give Back Homecoming Parade,” James Clemens Principal Dr. Brian Clayton said. “Over the past few years, we have averaged raising our $10,000 during this event.”

For the gift reveal, “Maelin-Kate wanted the dance line, cheer squad and band there for a pep rally. We were able to have a small group of people that spread out (for social distancing),” Clayton said. James Clemens Student Council led the event.

“Obviously, Maelin-Kate was very excited” during the presentation parade, Clayton said. “We were all very excited to have something so positive during the difficult times we’ve been in with COVID-19.”

“As a parent, I am very proud of our students who have done a selfless act that has provided so much joy for a child,” Clayton said. “We thank our Student Council and our Melanie Turner, their sponsor, for showing these acts of selflessness to inspire us all.”

Maelin-Kate, now six years old, is a kindergarten student at Asbury Church in Madison. Her two brothers attend James Clemens.

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