Wadena's Princess Lily
Lily Schey's favorite princess changes depending on the day. Friday she proclaimed it to be Belle, while the day before it was Sleeping Beauty.
To her parents, the charming five-year-old girl who is battling a rare brain condition is their little princess every precious day.
"You're kind of my hero, aren't you?" her mother, Shannon Schey, told Lily Friday during an interview at the Pioneer Journal.
After losing consciousness in late July, Lily was airlifted to Children's Hospital in Minneapolis when a CT scan revealed bleeding in her brain. Diagnosed with an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) - a tangle of blood vessels without the capillaries necessary for proper blood flow - Lily underwent emergency surgery, during which surgeons removed a potato-sized piece of her brain. But the AVM is growing back, and the little girl will have another risky surgery Jan. 8.
The Wadena community is hosting a "princess ball" to benefit the family from 5 to 7:30 Jan. 4 at the VFW. There will be a chili supper and silent auction, along with music, dancing games and face painting. Attendees are encouraged to dress in prince and princess outfits.
Residents and businesses have already made donations for the event, including gowns for the kindergartner and her friends. Lily will get her hair done and a professional photographer will document the day for a memory book.
"We thought it would put her in a good place before the surgery," Shannon said. "She's always wanted a big party. We thought we'd do it now, just it case."
With brain surgery, there's always the possibility her ability to remember, see, walk or talk could be affected. So far, Lily has beat the odds.
"We're really lucky we didn't lose her the first night," Shannon said.
When she woke up from surgery, the family didn't know what to expect, but Lily started talking.
"The surgeons were actually crying, saying it was a miracle," Shannon said.
Doctors expected Lily would need to stay in the hospital for two months. She left after 10 days. Since the surgery, which caused a traumatic brain injury, she's had headaches and her stomach sometimes hurts from the medicine.
"She's so brave," Shannon said. "She's not scared."
Last week, Lily's parents suspected she was having a stroke and rushed her to a Fargo hospital. Instead, it was what doctors called a "transient neurological disturbance."
Shannon said the family is grateful for every day. "We're just happy to have her."
The travel costs and co-pays are adding up. And the family is down to one income now that the mother of five - four girls and one boy - has taken a leave from her job at the post office and at least temporarily shuttered Schades of Green, her downtown antique and vintage store.
"I just couldn't do it any more," Shannon said.
She said the family is surprised and grateful for the community's outpouring of support.
"Even people I've never met," she said. "It's been really nice that everybody's thinking of her."
Asked Friday if she had anything say to her supporters, a smiling Lily summed it up in two words: "Thank you."
To donate to the Scheys, send checks to Mid-Central Federal Savings Bank (502 Jefferson St. S.) or give online at fundrazr.com.
For more information, contact benefit organizer Jessica Roberts at 631-5845 or 639-2926.