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Girl battling brain cancer meets a 'unicorn' through Make-A-Wish Foundation

Make A Wish unicorn
Posted at 8:25 AM, Jul 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-24 19:32:00-04

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — It's not every day a child gets to meet a unicorn, but thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, one little girl got that chance.

3-year-old Abigail had her wish to meet a unicorn granted at the Harris Riding Academy in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Abby, as her family calls her, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in July 2020. Her mother, Melissa Leggio, says Abby took a fall and hit her head. That night she woke up vomiting and was rushed to a local hospital.

Doctors found a brain tumor, and Abby was airlifted to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt University.

"We went home, and about three weeks later, on Aug. 11, we started round one of chemo," Leggio said, "She did six rounds of chemotherapy; each round lasted between two and three weeks in the hospital."

On March 15, Abby underwent a 10-hour brain surgery where doctors removed the primary brain tumor. It was at the hospital when the family learned Abby qualified for a wish through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

"Of course, Disney World was one of my ideas because she loves princesses, loves Disney. But due to COVID, traveling was not an option, which is fine," Leggio said. "They came up with some other amazing options, but we looked at all of them, we thought she loves unicorns, and this is so special and so specific that not every child gets this, and because of her journey, she deserves something that is unique, just for her."

The Harris Riding Academy has typical farm animals grazing in the fields.

"We have the goats, which are in back of me, they might be showing off a little bit, but we have Morgan's, we have the American Saddlebreds here," Maryland Masnica said.

But the farm is also home to a magical, mystical creature.

"But as far as exotic animals, the most exotic would be the unicorn," Masnica said.

Yep, a Unicorn!

"Olaf is a wonderful horse," said Manisca, Olaf's owner. "He does a lot of community service. He's actually the American Saddlebred diplomat of the breed."

He's here to meet a royal family.

"She's a spunky three-year-old, and you would never know about her cancer, other than her bald head," Leggio said.

It seems as if nothing could scare her — except maybe seeing a unicorn in person.

"Well, they're not exactly dangerous animals, but they are large animals, and when you're three years old, it can be pretty intimidating," Masnica said.

Abby still has a small piece of tumor left in her brain, but scans show it's not growing, shrinking or spreading.

This story was originally published by Kelsey Gibbs on Scripps station WTVF in Nashville.