For the streets of downtown Wylie, Texas, Christmas came twice. It was only a week after the town threw their yearly Christmas parade when they all came together for a reenactment of their Yuletide tradition after hearing that one of their own was unwell and couldn’t attend.
Chiari 1.5 Malformation and Syringomyelia
Said missing town member, seven-year-old Ily Mease, suffers from Chiari 1.5 Malformation, which is a condition that her mother, Brittany Mease, says means that her brain is too large for her skull. Because the brain has less space than it needs, part of it is forced down onto the spine.
Brittany says that this results in debilitating migraines that transform her daughter into an entirely different child.
“She becomes almost nonverbal. It’s just a migraine that you just can’t handle. She wants to be in a dark room. She wants to be upside down because the pressure…her brain’s already filled to the max in her skull and the pressure that just builds up until you can’t take it anymore. She’ll crawl. She’ll stop walking. She’ll chew on her fingers,” Mease said.
Ily also suffers from syringomyelia – a disorder where cysts or cavities form within the spinal cord and gradually elongate it – epilepsy, and a host of other medical conditions.
At this point, Ily has gone through three brain surgeries and is a little under two weeks out from a fourth. Her family is afraid that this will mean spending Christmas in the hospital.
“We really want to be at home. I think everybody does. We don’t know. We’re just hoping for the best and prepared for the worst.” says Mease.
The Community’s Plan
The Fire and Rescue department came up with a plan to make up for her missing the parade when a friend of the family sent them the story and let them know about her symptoms.
“I got a phone call from the fire department,” says Mease. “It first started when they asked if they could ride by her house with a fire engine, something that Mease said would make her day. It got even better, though, when Santa himself rang them up to see if he could drop by as well.
When Saturday came, Mease tearfully watched when a parade of fire engines, miniature bikes, football players, girl scouts, and many other people joined in and put on a brilliant show. The neighborhood of around a hundred people stood up and down the streets, watching the parade, in a show of support for the young girl and her family.
“It’s kind of indescribable,” spoke Mease. “There’s not a word or a lot of words I can put into a sentence to really explain it. I don’t know. It just feels really good to know that people care.”
During the parade, a crew quickly got to work setting up a Christmas tree in Ily’s front yard while she got the chance to ride down the parade route on an antique fire engine.
As a grand finale to the entire magical day, Mayor Eric Hogue did his annual reading of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” for the entire crowd as they all got together and did a countdown for Ily to flip the switch on her personal tree.
Fire Capt. Andrew Johnson said, “It’s a kind of culture around here that we take care of each other when somebody’s down on their luck or needs help. We just have a really good family culture in the city of Wylie.”
It shouldn’t go without mention that Ily also got some one-on-one time with Santa. When he asked her what it was she wanted for Christmas, she simply said, “A cure.”