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Heritage student Maelin Carlson benefits from St. Jude’s help

MADISON – Maelin Carlson, a student at Heritage Elementary School, is one of countless patients who has benefited from fundraising efforts for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

In one of those fundraisers, seven people represented Heritage Elementary School in the 2023 St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend. These Heritage Heroes raised approximately $9,000 for the hospital.

“Maelin is nine years old. She has Fanconi Anemia. It’s a genetic blood disease that results in bone marrow failure. She had a bone marrow transplant four years ago,” according to her parents, Paul and Megan Carlson.

“We adopted Maelin at three years old, and, by the grace of God, St. Jude was able to diagnose her soon after arriving in the United States,” Paul said.

St. Jude saved Maelin’s life, Paul said. “Her doctors and nurses worked tirelessly for her. Maelin had the first Fanconi Anemia transplant at St. Jude and encountered many complications. They never gave up and worked around the clock to make Mae the healthy person she is today.”

St. Jude’s staff treated the Carlsons, as parents, with respect and care. “I always knew they were doing the very best for Maelin,” Paul said.

The Carlsons continue to take Maelin to Memphis for appointments every few months. “St. Jude is one of Mae’s happy places. She loves to go because everyone strives to make her experience as fun and enjoyable as possible,” Paul said.

Both Paul and Megan thoroughly enjoy seeing Maelin’s doctors and nurses now, who feel joy in seeing Mae live her best life. “We’ll forever be grateful for the gift of hope and life they gave us,” he said.

“Maelin is the most joyful, sparkly person on the planet,” Paul said. “She loves everything and every day because she simply loves life. We’ve been so blessed she is healthy enough to go to school and be a normal child.”

Since Maelin’s first day at school, Heritage has been like family to the Carlsons. The school’s commitment to St. Jude’s children “has been an absolute blessing. They give every Heritage child and family obtainable ways to donate and be a part of a bigger cause. What an incredible teachable moment these children will carry with them for a lifetime,” Paul said.

When Maelin was a first-grader, her teacher ran the St. Jude Marathon and sent photos of the event to Mae. “She even found a life-size banner with Maelin’s picture on it. It made Mae feel so special and loved,” Paul said.

This year, Maelin’s teacher organized a race for the Heritage Cross Country Team to benefit St. Jude. The teacher arranged for Maelin to lead the runners in a Gator ATV and distribute awards. “It was so much fun,” Paul said.

The Carlsons feel blessed for Maelin to serve as an ambassador for St. Jude. “We’ve participated in various fundraising activities,” Paul said. This year, Maelin designed a golf bag for Ping that was used and sold during the FedEx Classic.

Maelin also is “Patient of the Year” for Kay Jewelers. The stuffed animals they’re selling this holiday season feature her artwork and picture.

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