By STEVEN NALLEY
Mary Margaret Sullivan doesn’t say much, but she can blow kisses.
Mike Sullivan, her father, said Mary Margaret has septo-optic dysplasia, which, among other things, limits her muscle control and her ability to communicate.
However, he said if Mary Margaret wants to say ‘Yes’ to someone, approves of something, or wants to tell Mike and her mother Kelly Sullivan she loves them, she will blow them a kiss at them.
“That’s a gift from God because it was totally untaught,” Mike said. “We were like, ‘Where did it come from?’ It was so awesome when it first happened, and she’s been doing it ever since. It melts your heart instantly.”
With funds raised by Mississippi State University’s Chi Omega sorority, the Make-A-Wish Foundation presented Mary Margaret with a therapy spa at a Wish Reveal Party Saturday at the Sullivan residence in Starkville’s Crossgate community.
Family, friends and representatives from the Make-A-Wish Mississippi Chapter and Chi Omega were on hand with food, balloons, banners and cameras. Also, American Idol finalist and Starkville native Jasmine Murray sang for Mary Margaret and her guests, accompanied on guitar by Pinelake Church worship pastor Ken Broom.
Mary Margaret blew plenty of kisses.
Kelly said Chi Omega raises funds for Make-A-Wish every year, and this year the group raised enough funds not only for Mary Margaret, but also other children in the Starkville area. She said Chi Omega also invited Mary Margaret to a talent show called “The Limelight” which culminates the group’s Wish Week.
“(Mary Margaret) was the centerpiece of it, and it was an awesome thing,” Kelly said. “It was just so cool. We didn’t know about it until this happened. It was really neat.”
Murray said she knew the Sullivan family from Pinelake Church. When they asked her if she was interested in singing at the Wish Reveal Party, she said she jumped at the opportunity.
“I’m so excited about it,” Murray said. “They’re an awesome family. They’re so wonderful and loving. I’m more than happy to be here — more than happy for Mary Margaret — to throw a great party.”
Mike said this is not his first experience with Make-A-Wish. Four years ago, he said he helped Robbie Koch at Coon Tattoos in West Point raise $15,000 in 24 hours for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, running public relations and assembling a lineup of bands for the event.
“Little did I know that four years later, my daughter would be getting a wish,” Mike said. “She was only maybe 9 months old at the time. We didn’t realize the extent of her medical conditions back then.”
The symptoms of Mary Margaret’s condition include blindness, lack of control of her body and hormone deficiencies, Mike said. Her brain is missing a corpus callosum, he said, and she has to take medicine morning and night to survive.
“She’s been airlifted twice; I don’t know how many ambulances she’s (ridden) in,” Mike said. “We came very close to losing her five times since birth. If she doesn’t get her medicine, things go downhill really quick. We have to care for her constantly, but ... she’s a total blessing to our family. She’s got a brother and sister that don’t even realize she has a disability, basically, because that’s what they know.”
Mike said Mary Margaret has always loved swimming at the homes of relatives or friends, so when Kelly filled out an application for Make-A-Wish and its representatives interviewed the family to determine what wish to grant for Mary Margaret, it made sense to give her a place to swim.
“This is something we can all do together as a family and, as my wife says, it kind of evens out,” Mike said. “Mary Margaret can play with her brothers and sisters all on the same level once we get in the spa because it gives her mobility. She loves the jets and the warm water. It’s good for her muscles because she’s in the wheelchair all the time. It allows us to do a little more therapy with her, too, because it’s a lot easier to hold weight in water than it is outside of water.”