Local girl gives back to community through Make a Wish shopping spree

Twelve-year-old Sophia Manuel is seen with all of her loot from her Make-A-Wish shopping adventure. Sophia spent all of her “spree” within in her community in order to give back for all of the kind support she has received.

Twelve-year-old Sophia Manuel is seen with all of her loot from her Make-A-Wish shopping adventure. Sophia spent all of her “spree” within in her community in order to give back for all of the kind support she has received.

Sophia Manuel of Versailles was recently granted her wish of a shopping adventure for her horse, Starlight.

The 12-year old was born a twin, however, Sophia was diagnosed with Digeorge Syndrome which causes learning disabilities, hearing and vision problems, as well as, heart and kidney issues. She also was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, which means the left side of her heart was so small that is was non-functioning.

Sophia, daughter of Shawn and Erin Manuel, was referred to Make-A-Wish a little over a year ago when she showed signs of Protein Losing Enteropathy. Her wish was for a horse, yet, Sophia’s elementary school nurse, Jan Miller (Morgan County R-II Elementary) and her husband, granted her wish the same day she got on the heart transplant list. Sophia was miraculously only on the transplant list for 10 days before receiving a heart. Before her transplant last June, Sophia endured roughly 20 surgeries since birth.

In order to bring Starlight, a Missouri Fox Trotter, home, Sophia’s next wish was to get all of the supplies needed to tend to a horse. And to say thank you to her community for its support over the years, she decided to spend her spree around town.

“We chose to use her wish funds locally because we felt it was only right that funds from her wish be spent within the community that has supported our family through so much with Sophia,” Shawn Manuel posted on Facebook. “As much as we thought we were going to be able to do something small to say thank you, all of the businesses went above and beyond in continuing to bless our family.”

On Jan. 26, Make-A-Wish Missouri granted her wish. Shawn said the foundation made plans to take Sophia to lunch at Veracruz before Sophia's shopping spree, but the great folks at Veracruz stepped in and bought lunch for all of their group, and even brought Sophie a special dessert.

After lunch, the Manuel’s headed to Wal-Mart, as part of Sophie’s wish was to purchase blanket kits to make for other children while they are at the hospital. She thought she would spend part of her spree budget there, and planned on buying 10 blanket kits.

“We get to Wal-Mart, and they have set up a welcome party with a huge horse cake, punch, and a table to take donations for blanket kits for Sophie to make! So, Sophie ended up with 23 blanket kits, 11 she purchased from her spree budget, and the remaining donated to Make-A-Wish by our kind community,” Shawn said.

Although it wasn’t on Sophia’s list, Shawn said one of the wish grantors recommended that she get a tablet device, so Sophia got a Nook Tablet, which soon became her one of her favorite items from her shopping day.

The final destination was Family Center, to get items for Starlight, and the experience was no different, Shawn said.

“We were greeted over the loudspeaker, had two-to-three folks helping us at all times, and Family Center gave Sophie a discount of 10 percent on everything for her spree,” Shawn explained. “The result was getting everything Sophie needed for Starlight, without even coming close to spending what was allocated for her spree.”

Sophia bought a helmet, brushes, bridles, plenty of treats, a watering trough, rope, cowgirl gear, feeding and watering equipment, bedding, food and more. Now that Sophie has everything needed to tend to a horse, Starlight should home in the next couple of weeks. And since Starlight is too young to ride, Sophie said this will be the year of spoiling for her horse.

“We are extremely thankful for a community that even gives, while we are attempting to give back! It makes us proud to call Versailles home,” Shawn said.

The family also expressed thanks to Make-A-Wish Missouri, Lauren Hicks, Cindy Major, and Melanie Major for making Sophia's wish come true.

Shawn added, “She had a great time, and it brought us great joy to watch her enjoy being the center of attention, without being surrounded by doctors and nurses. She is doing fantastic!”

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