Staff Photos: Jason Braverman
Caroline Clayton, a 6-year-old liver transplant survivor, dresses Boo, her new Yorkie, with the help of her brother, Jackson. Caroline received the puppy from the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
DACULA -- "Bippity. Boppity. ... Boo!" Caroline Clayton screamed.
Where else can a 6-year-old girl call on inspiration for the name of her puppy, granted as the 5,000th wish of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Georgia and Alabama?
"She's so huggable," Caroline said of Boo, the three-pound Yorkie puppy that arrived as a surprise when a limo drove up to Caroline's class at Pucketts Mill Elementary School two months ago.
The foundation didn't just give Caroline the puppy she wanted. She'll also star in her own puppy parade this weekend.
Boo has a tutu -- or maybe a dress, or maybe a "boo-kini"-- to wear to the event, scheduled for 2 to 4 p.m. in the Duluth Town Green.
"It's so sweet of them to take the time to fulfill a wish that is that child's heart desire. They individualize it," said Heidi Clayton, Caroline's mother.
When her daughter was just 12 months old, a case of the flu revealed a urea cycle defect that caused her liver to fail. Caroline had a liver transplant, but had rejection issues for the next three years until she had another liver transplant at age 4.
"It was a hard, hard, hard three years," Heidi Clayton said.
Since the second transplant, Heidi said her daughter is like a different child, full of energy and so healthy.
Despite labs every two weeks and clinic visits every two months, Caroline was able to start kindergarten and even plays softball.
"It's been easily manageable," Heidi Clayton said. The puppy has been too.
"(Caroline) loves to feed her. She gives her a bath all by herself," she said.
After the first liver transplant, a friend gave Caroline a dog, a now huge golden retriever named Bella that she shares with big brother Jackson. But Caroline wanted a small dog that she could dress up and love on.
She fell in love with her friend Shelby's Yorkie, and the pals would put the dog in a stroller and walk through the house pretending they were in a parade, waving to the crowd and pushing "President Lanie."
This time, though, Caroline will have her own little Yorkie, and a big parade, even with the Peachtree Ridge High School marching band and a train.
The family friendly event will also feature a bounce house, an obstacle course, snow cones, funnel cakes and face painting.
"Granting children's wishes through the Make-A-Wish Foundation is a rallying point for people in their communities," said Kathy Hammond, Make-A-Wish Foundation of Georgia & Alabama CEO. "It unifies everyone in a common cause, to bring hope, strength and joy to children with life-threatening medical conditions. We want our community to join in that spirit by celebrating Caroline's wish on Sunday, May 15."