Local girl with rare medical condition needs your help to fulfill her birthday wish


TRI-CITIES - The movie "Wonder" is set to hit the big screen on Friday, and the movie's message hits close to home for the Sheets family from Johnson City.

Mackenzie is the oldest of the two Sheets children. Despite her young age, Sheets has been in and out of the hospital enough to fill a dozen lifetimes.

"It is really hard to watch all the surgeries and the suffering and the pain she's been through," Kacie Sheets, Mackenzie's mother, says. "But she always pulls through."

Mackenzie was born with Apert Syndrome, which is a rare medical condition that diffuses bones in the skull. By doing that, it doesn't allow any room for the brain to grow.

"Without having surgery to correct that, it could cause brain damage and even ultimately death," Mackenzie's mom says.

Sheets says she doesn't always feel like the other kids in school, but she says she can relate to 10-year-old Auggie Pullman. Pullman is the main character in "Wonder."

"He's not afraid to tell you who he is," Mackenzie says.

The move centers around Pullman's experiences in school. It's a situation the Sheets family knows all about.

"Every day when I come home, the first thing I ask [Mackenzie] is, instead of 'how was your day?' or 'did you have a good day?' I asked 'was everybody nice to you and did you have any problems today?'" Sheets says.

Middle schoolers can often be mean, and Mackenzie says she's been the target of their bullying before.

"They call me names and say I don't look good and stuff like that" she says. "They put me down."

The movie's tagline is #choosekind. Mackenzie says that's a message everyone should abide by.

"We shouldn't be judged on how we look or what we look like," she says. "We just be judged on how we act."

Mackenzie turned 12-years-old this week and she's asked her parents for a present they can't deliver by themselves. For her birthday, Mackenzie wants everyone to join her and her family at the premiere of "Wonder" on Friday night.

"If people come, I feel like they will see and learn more about the condition, how it affects people and what it's really about," the eldest Sheets child says.

"It would be amazing," Noah Sheets, Mackenzie's 7-year-old brother, says. "It would be the best day of my life."