ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Maddie Althoff and her family spent nearly a month in the hospital in 2009 after a trip to Urgent Care revealed she had severe aplastic anemia -- an autoimmune disorder where white blood cells attack bone marrow.
"I just hoped for another Christmas with her," remembers her mother Jennifer Ellis.
Within a few months Maddie got healthier and back to school. She went back to playing lacrosse again, something she loved before she was sick. She even got brand new equipment and in June of 2011 a trip to the Lacrosse Hall of Fame, all thanks to the Make-A-Wish foundation. But a week removed from her trip and receiving her new gear, Maddie had one more setback while she attended a lacrosse camp in Minnesota.
"Mine were the only ones that were stolen," said 12-year-old Maddie Althoff. "I was mad, I didn't want to go to camp the next day."
Maddie's story made its way back to the folks at Make-A-Wish and Minnesota Swarm co-owner Andy Arlotta.
"I instantly recognized the Swarm hat and we had a relationship with Make-A-Wish and we started chatting," said Arlotta.
Which brings us to this very special day at Maddie's school where she is once again about to have a wish come true.
Epoch Lacrosse -- a Minnesota-based company -- gave Maddie two brand new sticks and the Swarm's co-owner surprised her with season tickets.
"Emotional," says Jennifer Ellis, Maddie's mom. "It's incredible what the Swarm has done.
"I've never seen someone so speechless," said Arlotta.
"I don't remember when I couldn't talk," Maddie said. "Because, usually my mom and teachers cannot stop talking."
In her new seats at the Swarm game two rows up from the floor, Maddie makes plenty of noise and has plenty of smiles. She is two years removed from her last transfusion and she continues to be healthy.
"We're feeling pretty good that she won't go into any kind of remission," Maddie's mom said. "But if you're the parent of a sick kid every day is like a year."
But this year Maddie gets to be more preoccupied with the Swarm's outcome, instead of her own.
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