PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (WTXF) - To see Maddie O'Malley now, one sees a smiling five-year-old enjoying her day, who may or may not fully grasp the impact of the leukemia she battled for the last two years. But, her father Shaun says it was an ongoing challenge.
"It was constant doctors' appointments, medicine and hospital stays," said dad, Shaun.
Anyone who has gone through something like this knows its all-encompassing. Of course, their only focus was the care of their daughter and their family.
"It was two years of chemotherapy, its very time consuming on top of the emotional stress," explained Shaun.
But in December the Flyers, Michael's Way and other local sponsors heard about their story and February 14 revealed to the family a gift that changed all of their lives.
Shaun says he was shocked, "My jaw hit the floor, all I could say was wow."
Wow, about sums up the block party. Visiting Flyers players and newly renovated home all donated by Flyers Charities, Michael's Way and others and all in Maddie and the family's honor. Linda Mantai, of Flyers Charities, believes these are the types of things teams can do to give back.
"We play hockey for a living and this really puts things in perspective and once a year really gives us something to feel good about and a way to give back to a family that really deserves it," explained Mantai.
The whole neighborhood was there, meeting the players, their wives and girlfriends who decorated the home and cheering on the return of the O'Malley's who have been out of the home for two months.
But the highlight, at least to me, could be seen on the faces of the flyers wives and girlfriends as they saw Maddie's response to the room they decorated for her.
"I love it! I think it's perfect. What did you think when you saw your room? I LOVED IT."
The whole day was a huge success and Maddie is currently cancer free for 9 months so there were lots of reasons to celebrate. Chris McElwee of Michael's Way Charity was proud to be part of such a great initiative
"Whether you're just volunteering, you're donating, whatever may be, if everyone comes together, to do a project like this you see what the result is. It's amazing," said McElwee.
A little girl and her family who have spent nearly half of her life winning a battle with leukemia got an amazing gift because the Philadelphia sports teams and families showed once again that Philadelphia knows what it means to truly be a community. For Goodness Sake.