Eleven-year-old McKayla Browning of Syracuse has a special affinity for animals.
“I just love how unique each one is,” she says. “Each one has its own creature power and I think its really cool.”
McKayla’s power is overcoming cancer. She was diagnosed at just 13 months old.
“Hepatoblastoma is the name of it,” her father C.J. Browning tells ABC4 News. “It was a tumor in her liver. By the time we found it, it had spread from her liver to her lungs and some lymph nodes…It didn’t look good then. Several miracles later, she’s here.”
One of those miracles was a successful liver transplant on September 22 of last year.
“Everything’s just been kind of crazy since September, but you know, we’re getting there, and soon we’ll be through it,” McKayla says. “I’m excited because the doctor said once I get healed and everything, I can play gymnastics which has been my dream.”
On Wednesday, her dream was feeding giraffes, seeing lions up close, and making a sea lion jump during a VIP behind the scenes tour, made possible by the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Hogle Zoo.
“I’m very grateful that Hogle Zoo agreed to do this for me,” she says. “And Make-A-Wish was the one that made this possible, so I’m very grateful for that as well.”
Later, McKayla and her family had the opportunity to feed the elephants and watch them paint with their trunks.