LIVERMORE — With mouse ears on her head and smile on her face, Oona Shink got her wish for a Mickey Mouse-themed fenced backyard Monday, followed by a parade past her house commemorate the day.

The 3-year-old fan of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, who was born with a hole in her diaphragm, was granted her request by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which partnered with the local police and fire departments to host the parade.

A large number of Oona’s immediate and extended family gathered outside the her home on Botka Hill Road to view the procession of about 30 vehicles, including police and fire units, to recognize her wish come true. The parade started at the Livermore Falls town office.

“If she could be outside all day, she would,” her mother, Sharon Shink, said, “but where we live, we have a lot of drop-offs and bumps in the ground. So, for them to be able to give Oona something that she can cherish, it’s such a blessing to us.”

“We couldn’t be more thankful,” her father, Nick Shink, said. “Now she’s able to have a place where she can run around and explore.”

“It was incredibly moving to see the community rally around Oona,” Mackenzie Perry, wish manager for Make-A-Wish Maine wrote in an email Monday. “Livermore and its surrounding towns are a close-knit community dedicated to helping others, which was proven by the multitude of people who dedicated their time and creativity to make this little girl’s wish day so special.”

The organization thanked Triple P Fence, Livermore police and fire departments, and the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office for their support. Volunteer wish granters Laurie Noel and Nichole Rutherford, and Adopt-A-Wish partner Summer Block Party were also given thanks.

Oona was born with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia, a hole in the diaphragm that causes organs to be lifted into the chest cavity.


“Oona was diagnosed with CDH at my 21-week ultrasound,” her mother said. “After the diagnosis, a family friend gave us the advice to go to Boston Children’s Hospital. “Once we got to Boston, I got MRI scans, and they told us, ‘trust in our team, and we will do our best.'”

Oona spent the first six months of her life in the ICU at the Boston hospital.

Surgery, a ventilator, an infection and a stroke were among the difficulties the newborn faced, her mother said. The family was told she might not make it.

“She’s a fighter,” her father said.

“It’s been the ultimate roller coaster ride,” he said. “It’s been hot then cool, scary and dark then uplifting and beautiful. Honestly, she’s a real treasure, and she is by far the happiest kid I’ve ever seen. To watch her journey has actually been so inspiring to our lives, we’ve changed the way we look at our lives because of the way Oona just effortlessly cares about everything.”

“She literally is the strongest person I’ve ever met,” her mother said. “I’ve never seen anybody go through what she did.”


“One of the big things we were wondering is if she would ever be able to walk. Sure enough one day in September she just got up and started walking,” Sharon Shink said.

“It’s like she’s able to just decide to do things,” Nick Shink said. “She’s already started working on becoming more verbal.”

Oona’s family has spent the past three years learning more about CDH. Meeting other families at Boston Children’s Hospital gave them a sense of community while navigating these challenges.

It was there where the Shinks began Oona’s Facebook page, posting monthly updates on Oona’s Journey, as well as holding small fundraisers to battle CDH. Oona’s family hopes to be able to continue raising money for research and treatment. The couple were interviewed as a part of a telethon to raise awareness for CDH on April 19, CDH Awareness Day.

Asked how parents and families can learn more about CDH, Nick advised contacting CDH International, which raises money for research and assists families financially. The majority of the staff are volunteers, including a large number of families who have dealt with CDH.

“They also make tote bags for families before their baby is born,” Sharon Shink said. “The tote bags have informational materials about CDH, baby blankets, and so much more.”

The Shinks said their goal is to spread awareness about CDH and bring comfort to Maine families who are or may have to deal with the condition.

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