-- Hannah Mae Campbell is an outgoing, spunky and imaginative little girl who is having the time of her life playing outside in the brand new playhouse of her dreams that a generous local Girl Scout troop built in her backyard earlier this month.
The reason it’s so special to her, however, is because 4-year-old Hannah has a suppressed immune system, making normal childhood activities like attending birthday parties or even taking trips to the grocery store extremely difficult.
Hannah was born with Diffuse Rhabdomyomatosis, which is “a benign tumor that took over her heart valve,” Campbell explained. “This was a tumor throughout her whole entire heart organ. Her heart was growing and it wasn’t going to stop until it killed her.”
At just 4 months old, after 59 blood transfusions, multiple surgeries and 169 days in Seattle Children’s Hospital, Hannah received a new heart.
“When she did receive the heart transplant, we learned that she’s the only survivor with this disease,” her mom said.
Hannah is now doing much better, but still needs to be very careful about being exposed to germs. This makes normal daily activities like going to the grocery store, eating out at a restaurant or attending birthday parties very difficult.
When Girl Scout Troop 44017 heard of little Hannah’s story, they wanted to help.
“One of the leaders, Lisa, called me and said, ‘I’ve heard about your story. Our troop is doing this service project and we really wanted to find a girl who maybe has a low immune system or is suffering with medical issues,’” Campbell recalled of their initial conversation. “These girls were just so excited. They fell in love with her.”
The Girl Scouts came out to talk to the family prior to getting started so they could not only build the playhouse, but decorate it with her favorite things.
“She told them she loved to cook fake food and garden and plant flowers and her favorite color was orange,” Campbell said. “These girls went into action. They were doing fundraising to raise all this money themselves.”
On the morning of May 14, just four days before Hannah’s birthday, it was pouring rain. But that didn’t deter these Girl Scouts from making Hannah’s dreams come true.
“They come in these vans and they brought this kit to put it all together,” Campbell said. “They thought of every detail. Hannah loves to get the mail with me so they built a little mailbox outside, they put it on a platform so we don’t have to worry about mowing the lawn, just every detail.
“It was so much bigger than just the house,” she added. “They took turns playing with Hannah as it was being built because they couldn’t all fit.”
The magical playhouse has a working doorbell, real flowers, a little plastic picnic table, fake food, and even a little plastic grill inside with fake flames.
“Her imagination is just going to work,” the delighted mom said. “She’s has just been absolutely in love with this playhouse. It’s just been amazing. She doesn’t want to leave."
“It’s amazing to see her imagination live in this play land. It’s just a different little world out there in a house that she sits in with a bench and pillows and it’s amazing. They did a wonderful job. I was in tears for the first couple days," Campbell said.
The Girl Scouts and Hannah hit it off so well that they’ve even invited her to participate in their “bridging” ceremony on June 5 when five of the girls will be transitioning from the junior to cadet level of Scouts.
“They’re going to walk her across the bridge and then present her with the sweatshirt on the other side,” Amber Johnson, one of the troop leaders, explained. “From the beginning, they always wanted to make her an honorary Girl Scout. They adore her and we’re really excited.”
And for Hannah, the feeling is mutual.
“She’s made them all thank you cards and cannot wait to be included in such a special ceremony," Campbell said.