Wal-Mart makes day special for 5-year-old

A tiny honorary truck driver hopped down from the cab of the Wal-Mart Heart tractor-trailer rig to be greeted by a crowd of well-wishers, hugs and balloons. Five-year-old McKinleigh Berry clutched her mother’s hand and snuggled close, clearly a little overwhelmed by the big surprise, but smiling nonetheless. “Every since we got the call she’s been excited,” her mother Amanda Berry said. “She’s the kind you can’t really throw surprises at though, so I expected her to be pretty nervous once we got here.”

McKinleigh, wearing a white “truck driver’s” work shirt, accepted a huge bunch of green balloons after her ride from Muskogee to Wagoner on Tuesday afternoon, and soon went inside for cake and pizza with her family and many new friends who turned out to greet her. The program is called Wal-Mart Heart, and the driver of the truck McKinleigh arrived on said the “Heart team” is a group of drivers out of Bentonville, Arkansas, who support kids in need who have special things going on their lives. “We make them an honorary driver for the day, give them a shirt.

They get a lot of goodies from the store and we have fundraisers so we can give them little gifts,” John Patterson said. “And they get to take a truck ride from one store to another. In a nutshell, that’s what Wal-Mart Heart is.” McKinleigh has stage 2 chronic kidney disease — with a rocky start as a newborn, she has spent much time in hospitals and doctors’ offices, her mother said.

“This is kind of a surprise for the whole family, and it’s just to help her forget about her everyday struggle for a little while,” Amanda said. “We didn’t know exactly what to expect, just that she’d get to ride in the truck. Ever since we found out she’s asked every day if today is the day. She said to me the other day she can’t wait for the day it’s all about her — so she’s pretty excited.”

McKinleigh’s grandmother, Melanie Thayer, brought bunches of balloons to the Wagoner Wal-Mart on Tuesday afternoon to greet her granddaughter as she arrived in a convoy of tractor-trailer rigs, escorted by Wagoner police officers. She handed out signs to the crowd who gathered — bright, cheerful signs McKinleigh’s older sister Jayden helped decorate for her sister. “Her big sister helps her in so many ways,” Thayer said. “She holds her hand at doctor appointments, carries her, and talks her through hard times.”

Thayer said McKinleigh was born Oct.

7, 2011, and came home from the hospital on Nov.

23, 2011. She has been through many tests, needles, medicines, an induced coma and breathing machines. She has had to be flown by helicopter to a hospital, been in renal failure and suffers from high blood pressure.

McKinleigh may need a kidney transplant someday, her grandmother said. She calls McKinleigh their “little miracle,” and said God has a plan for her granddaughter. “We are thankful to Wal-Mart Heart to honor her and her daily struggles with a chronic disease,” Thayer said. “We also want to make everyone aware of kidney disease.

Save a life; be a donor.”

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or [email protected][1].


  1. ^ [email protected] (www.muskogeephoenix.com)

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