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Lots of grit and always a smile: Girl with spina bifida now has lots of presents too

Addison and parents Tom and Marci Doyle are shown at home in Granite Falls with the rewards of their free shopping spree at the ALCO store in Olivia. Submitted photo

OLIVIA — Addison Doyle has an ever-ready smile, lots of grit, spina bifida, and just a few days before her second birthday, more presents than she’s ever likely to see again at one time.

The presents came by the shopping cart load last Sunday afternoon.

 Her parents, Tom and Marci Doyle of Granite Falls, filled up shopping carts with $3,533.50 worth of merchandise in 2 minutes and 30 seconds at the ALCO store in Olivia.

It was all free, courtesy of the store.

The store offered the shopping spree to support the Tim Orth Memorial Foundation.

The Foundation assists families with major medical challenges. Since its start 19 years ago, the organization has raised over $2 million.

On Sunday, Tom filled the carts and Marci kept pace supplying replacement carts as the clock ticked off the allotted 2½ minutes. Cameras kept clicking as a crowd of people followed the whirlwind of activity like Paparazzi, laughed Tom and Marci and Addison’s grandmothers, Vicki Reishus and Pam Doyle, in describing the scene at the store.

“It was awesome,’’ said Marci.

The family describes Addison that way too. Born two years ago as of Friday, she underwent her first surgery before the end of her first full day.

She was born with myelomeingocele, a type of spina bifida considered to be the most severe. She has had numerous surgeries since the first, including one to free her tethered spinal cord.

One of the more recent surgeries was to remove a dermoid tumor that pressed on her nerves. Doctors discovered the tumor during an examination, not because Addison had ever quit smiling.

Ditto for a surgery that was required when doctors discovered a shunt they had placed earlier was failing. “She was such a good little girl they didn’t think that her shunt was failing,’’ said Pam Doyle.

Nurses have frequently told the family they’ve never cared for a girl like her. “She just goes with the flow,’’ said Pam.

The family makes frequent trips to the University of Minnesota Hospitals for her care and weekly trips to Willmar for therapy. One surgery kept the family in the Twin Cities for six consecutive days.

The medical bills and associated expenses add up, and that’s why the Tim Orth Memorial Foundation named the family as among its recipients two years ago. For this year’s “Jam the Gym” event, the Doyles sold 583 tickets to support it.

At the event, the Foundation asked the recipients to toss their children’s name in a drawing. Addison’s name was chosen, making possible Sunday’s shopping spree.

Lucky to be sure, but Tom and Marci said they were already feeling very fortunate to be part of the Tim Orth Memorial Foundation. Its volunteers “are beyond amazing,’’ said Marci.

 “It’s just amazing the support they get from the communities too,’’ said Pam. “It just brings tears to your eyes, it such an emotional thing that they do here,’’ she said.

Meanwhile, they expect Addison to keep putting smiles on their faces. Due to her spina bifida, she is behind other children her age in developing her motor skills. “We expect this to be a big year with her walking and everything,’’ said Pam of their expectations.

The Granite Falls Lutheran Church is hosting a benefit for Addison and her family with a dinner and silent auction at the church from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

(320) 214-4335