Knoxville girl goes on Make-A-Wish Trip to meet the Packers

by Lindsey Klyn, Marketing Specialist 

Caylee - special olympicsLife for eight-year-old Caylee Pettyjohn has never been easy. Just one week after she was born, Caylee displayed weakness and spasticity in her muscles. At ten months, parents Trevor and Emilee learned that their sweet little girl suffered a stroke that would forever impact their lives.

The stroke occurred in Caylee’s left middle cerebral artery, which affected the blood supply to the left side of her brain. This resulted in an additional diagnosis: hemiplegia, meaning the right side of her body suffered from severe weakness.

Both physical therapy and occupational therapy became a normal part of Caylee’s life from a young age. However, when she turned five, Caylee began experiencing seizures that couldn’t be controlled with medication. The seizures caused her doctors to recommend surgery at age six to disconnect a portion of her brain. The surgery stopped the seizures, but Caylee has been working since then to regain functional use of her right hand.

“Caylee has made some amazing improvements from coming to therapy at Kinetic Edge,” commented Emilee. “She loves coming to therapy, and her providers make it fun for her. We couldn’t have found a better fit for Caylee.”

Even with therapy, everyday activities, especially those that require two hands like getting dressed or going to the bathroom, require extra effort and assistance for Caylee. Fatigue quickly settles in as Caylee works to accomplish tasks others view as typical.  By the end of a day and especially at the end of a school week, Caylee’s exhausted.

But a sweet surprise came for the Pettyjohns when the Make-A-Wish foundation contacted them this past fall. This organization believes wishes make life better for kids with life-threatening medical conditions, so much like Aladdin and the genie, Caylee was given one wish to make.

“Caylee watched videos of Disneyland and Disney cruises and was given as many options as we could think of, but what she ultimately wanted to do was something that everyone would remember for a lifetime,” shared Trevor. “Football Sunday’s in the Pettyjohn house are a big part of our family’s leisure time, so Caylee wished to meet the Green Bay Packers.”

Caylee - Packers balloonsSoon, Caylee’s wish to meet the Packers and her favorite player Ha Ha Clinton Dix started to take shape. Dairy Queen marked the first stop of the wish granting adventure where Caylee was greeted with a bouquet of Packers balloons.

“Caylee let the balloons go because she was convinced they would meet her in Green Bay,” said Trevor. “When we arrived at the hotel, the people with Make-A-Wish made sure that there were Packer’s balloons in our room.”

The Pettyjohns arrived at their hotel and rested up for their big adventure. The next morning, they were picked up by a limousine and taken to Lambeau Field for Caylee’s dream to come true. After a guided tour and trip through the gift shop, Caylee and her family headed to the players’ area. Caylee met the players, including her favorite Ha Ha Clinton Dix, hung out at practice, and even got to play catch with Aaron Rodgers!

PicMonkey Collage
Left: Caylee with her favorite player, Ha Ha Clinton Dix – Middle: Pettyjohn family with Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb, and Jordy Nelson – Right: Caylee playing catch with Aaron Rodgers


Caylee - high fives“The highlight of the trip for Caylee was getting to break the team down after practice and run through a tunnel of the players slapping hands on each side,” stated Trevor.

The fun wasn’t over yet, as the Pettyjohns also got tickets to see the Packers play the Lions. Caylee’s presence during practices must have inspired them, as the Packers won 34 to 27.

For Caylee and her family, the trip is more than a fun experience. It’s even more than an escape from the daily challenges they face. It’s a reminder to never lose hope and simply one more instance where the Pettyjohns realize just how much joy Caylee adds to their family.