FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT)- Ten-year-old Maddie Dean is a Riley kid, who was diagnosed with a rare disease at age three.
”My disease is called Juvenile Dermatomyositis. It affects the skin and the muscles, and for me it was both," Maddie said.
The disease clearly hasn't held her back, though. Maddie plays piano, is one belt away from a black belt in Karate, and is an artist. This year she was one of three kids at Riley asked to decorate an ornament for Christmas.
”I really, really liked how it turned out because I also like nutcrackers. I wanted to do something that kind of involves my personality, and also Riley, too," she said.
Angela Dean, Maddie's mom, said it all started when Maddie got the Flu around Thanksgiving seven years ago.
”Shortly after that, we noticed she had a rash around her cuticles, she had what’s called a butterfly rash on her face, and her eyelids were a little purple. We also noticed she had some muscle weakness," Dean said.
When she didn't get better, her pediatrician ran some tests and Maddie was taken to Riley.
"She was admitted for three to four days and given a steroid infusion. We were sent home with a bunch of medicines and we were going back every week," Dean said.
In the next few years, Maddie would face medication rejection and headaches from swelling.
"We say that it's like having three kids because we've brough her home from the hospital three different times, but it's been amazing being her mom because her faith is so strong," Dean said.
Now, Maddie is down to one doctor visit a month, and her mom says the staff at Riley has been a blessing.
And Maddie couldn't agree more.
”They saved my life. Basically they're heroes," Maddie said.
Maddie's oranament will be available at local Speedway stores and on the Riley website here. You can also buy a card designed by Maddie.