A grinning 10-year-old Reese Burdette sat in the cab of a big rig in the Make-A-Wish truck convoy, waving to a crowd gathered at the side of the road and, in her words, “having fun.”

The Mercersburg Elementary School fifth-grader was one of eight Make-A-Wish children participating Saturday in the truck convoy, Franklin County Make-A-Wish’s major fundraiser. She was accompanied on the ride by her mother, Claire, and younger sister, Brinkley.

“It was fun,” Reese said after returning from the two-and-a-half-hour convoy ride. “I liked everything pretty much. I got lots of waves.”

Staci Hull, who directed the Franklin County Make-A-Wish Truck Convoy, said Reese’s story is just one of many she hears every year as the organization tries to fulfill special wishes of kids across the county facing life threatening diseases. The organization will fulfill Reese’s wish in the near future. 

“It’s all about love and hope,” Hull said of the organization’s mission. 

For the spunky Reese — who survived a tragic fire three years ago and endured skin grafts, surgeries, five episodes of cardiac arrest and the amputation of a leg while a patient for almost two years at Johns Hopkins Burn Center in Baltimore — almost everything she does now is “fun.”

And she doesn’t stint on the hard work it takes to do it, something that probably contributed to the young girl’s ability to overcome odds stacked against her during her long hospital stay.

School is fun, attending the fair and going to the beach is fun, the hard work in caring for the newest addition to her collection of prize-winning Holstein cows — a calf she named Poser — is fun.

It is a remarkable attitude for a little girl that has suffered so much in the last three years and fought hard to not just survive, but thrive.

At no time does she even consider giving up, according to her parents and others in her life. Her plans include a future filled with her Holsteins, including future generations of prize winning cows. 

This fall she plans to take Poser, the offspring of her prize-winning cow Pantene, to the state fair in Harrisburg. Bringing home more ribbons seems to be a given, judging from the work she puts into Posers care and training.

Earlier this year the Burdettes were told Reese might need a kidney transplant in the near future.  She had been on dialysis for two years and specialists feared kidney failure was imminent. 

A search began for a donor, but  doctors decided to take her off dialysis before a donor was lined up. Her kidneys began functioning well enough that today, although a donor match has been found, they have decided to wait as long as possible to do the transplant.

Reese’s life is close to normal again. She has adapted to her prosthesis and doesn’t seem aware of it.

She has totally given up her wheelchair, which last year she still needed at  times at school because she tired easily.

She has a special wish, which Make-A-Wish will fulfill for her either later this year or early next year. The nature of that wish won’t be revealed until Make-A-Wish has worked out all the details related to it.

The truck convoy has been the Franklin County Make-A-Wish chapter’s main fundraising effort for the past five years, raising thousands of dollars every year to fund children’s wishes.

The project has grown every year and this year one of its biggest supporters, IMI Products of Chambersburg, donated $3,500. 

Hull said this year’s convoy included 182 vehicles, including  trucks and, for the first time this year, more than three dozen  motorcycles that brought up the rear of the convoy. Pennsylvania State Police troopers led the convoy on a 32-mile route around the county, starting at Cumberland Valley Antique Showgrounds

The event included a car show, food vendors and a raffle as well as trophies for the  trucks judge the best of the convoy, determined by crowd votes. 

This was the sixth year for the truck convoy that provides a special experience for kids fighting terminal illness or medical situations such as Reese’s.

Source: Public Opinion Online