Family Creates Bucket List for Baby With Terminal Illness

Zailynn Mars was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy in August.

— -- The family of a terminally ill infant girl is making sure she gets the most out of life by checking items off a bucket list they created following her diagnosis with a genetic disorder that gave her two years to live.

"Mainly we are trying to create memories for our daughter that every kid should experience," dad Cory Mars of Neenah, Wisconsin, told ABC News. "People have been helping us check things off her bucket list. It makes me see as a father that there are good people out there."

"They are helping us fill my daughter's life with happy things," he said.

Mars said it was on Aug. 14 when his daughter, Zailynn, who's now 8 months old, was diagnosed with type 1 spinal muscular atrophy, which affects the motor nerve cells in the spinal cord, taking away the ability to walk, eat or even breathe.

"That day it kind of plays over in my head pretty much every day," Mars said. "Her life expectancy, rarely do they [children] see over 2 years old. I couldn't stand there and have someone tell me that my daughter wasn’t going to be with me for as long as she should be, until I'm an old man."

"Children that have SMA, there's a quality of life you have to decide as a parent," he added. "We want her to be happy and experience the fun things. When it comes to her staying in a hospital more time than she's been out of a hospital, that’s where I draw the line."

In an effort to give baby Zailynn the happiest times of her life, her dad and the rest of the Mars family created a bucket list composed of 51 items to check off.

"Number one is to have daddy walk me down the aisle," Mars said. "Being able to walk my daughter down the aisle at her wedding is the best thing I'd ever do that I'd never be able to do."

In order to improvise for life moments such as weddings and prom, Mars said he was able to walk with Zailynn down the aisle at a friend's September wedding.

For No. 29 on the list -- go to prom and have pictures taken -- family and friends are holding a mock prom for Zailynn at the family's local church in Fairwater, Wisconsin.

Mars said his main objectives are to enjoy the time he has with Zailynn and to promote awareness for SMA.

"With my daughter's story, we want her to bring a positive impact on everybody's life," Mars said. "She a very excited baby -- happy to see anybody. If you look into her stroller, you'll definitely get a smile. She's 100 percent a daddy’s girl."

Zailynn's Bucket List

Daddy walks me down the aisle--completed.

Milwaukee Zoo--completed.

Family pictures --scheduled.

Sibling pictures--scheduled.

Visit a farm--completed.

Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois


Go to a movie

Go to the beach

Visit the ocean

Draw my name in the sand--completed.

Get on the Ellen show to get SMA awareness out there

Boat ride

Children's museum--completed.

Paint a picture--completed.

Celebrate life on the 12th of every month—completed.

Dress up like a princess--completed.

Get my nails painted--completed.

Go on a train ride

Brewers game

Football game

Play in the leaves

Go fishing and catch a fish

Get held by the fireman for a picture--completed.

Make a snow angel

Build a snow man

Celebrate Christmas

Host a first birthday/meet and greet--scheduled.

Go to prom and have pictures taken--scheduled

Go to a concert

Meet John Cena and the Rock

Get a ride on a horse

Get sent flowers--done

Send a gift to someone special--completed.

Have a picnic at the park

Let a balloon go--done

Sing karaoke with daddy--scheduled.

Celebrate Thanksgiving--scheduled.

Go down a slide at the park

Go for a sled ride

Meet Santa get a picture with him--completed.

Go swimming--completed.

Bake cookies--scheduled.

Be in two places at once

Get pictures taken in my mom’s wedding dress--completed.

Go to a parade

Hang out with a ninja

Have someone sing to me--completed.

Hang an ornament on the Christmas tree--completed.

Watch daddy and mommy carve pumpkins--completed.

Receive a letter from a pen pal--completed.

Go mudding--completed.