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Make-A-Wish, volunteers deliver dream playhouse for 4-year-old Mitchell girl

4-year-old fighting congenital heart disease

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Clara Fraser, 4, was a recipient of a new custom playhouse Friday courtesy of Make-a-Wish South Dakota and Montana and local volunteers and businesses.
Luke Hagen / Mitchell Republic
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MITCHELL — It’s not your ordinary playhouse. In fact, it’s so large it won’t fit inside the Fraser household in Mitchell.

That’s just fine, said Meagan Fraser, whose daughter, Clara, received the new structure on Friday as a granted wish from the Make-A-Wish South Dakota & Montana organization. The mini dream home is the result of the organization and labor and materials from several local businesses.

“She loves to play outside,” Fraser told the Mitchell Republic. “She is kind of a diva and a tomboy at the same time.”

Clara suffers from a congenital heart disease, but she has been beating the odds throughout the four year of her life. Her condition is known as Williams syndrome, which often results in heart conditions in those who suffer from it. She has suffered surgeries and seizures from her earliest days, but she has battled through it with a sweet attitude and a can-do spirit.

“In 2018, they didn’t give her a lot of time. They said she maybe had a few weeks, a few months. They weren’t sure,” Fraser said. “She’s been having seizures and had open heart surgery at 1 month.”

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Clara, 4, was granted a wish by Make-A-Wish South Dakota & Montana on Friday at her house near Mitchell.
Luke Hagen / Mitchell Republic

She went into cardiac arrest in 2018 and was taken to Omaha, Nebraska, but she has continued to impress her caretakers with her resiliency and spirit. Fraser said the family, which includes her husband Jason, treats every day with her like a gift.

“Her body has adjusted to it, but it’s hard to say what her prognosis is, everything could backtrack tomorrow, we’re just not really sure,” Fraser said.

Brad Strom, general manager for Builders FirstSource in Mitchell, which provided the labor and materials for the playhouse, said the business had been involved in past projects with Make-a-Wish and they were happy to jump on board this effort.

“We’ve done this a couple of times. We did one in Huron two years ago and in Sioux Falls last year. It feels pretty cool (to be involved). It’s for a great cause and it can kind of take her mind off of the stuff she has been going through and just be a kid,” Strom said.

The playhouse itself measures 10 feet by 12 feet, which includes a 4-foot porch. It has five windows and a little door, and even has some of the amenities of home, such as electricity. There will be a custom-made sign adorning the house, as well.

Builders FirstSource was one of several businesses that contributed their expertise to the unique playhouse. TimberRoots Distribution Center worked on the decking, Bayer Built Woodworks contributed the front door, Jay Linke Electric set up the electricity, Schuh Painting handled the painting, Jerry Olinger Carpet installed the carpeting and provide floor labor and the custom sign was provided by Make-It-Mine Sign Company.

“She’s gonna love this,” Strom said.

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Clara's Cottage was presented on Friday.
Luke Hagen / Mitchell Republic

Sue Salter, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish South Dakota & Montana, said the organization was proud to help brighten Clara’s day, and thanked the participating businesses and volunteers for their efforts.

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“In a recent survey of over 3,000 wish families, wish alumni and medical providers, 100% of medical providers said the wish experience improves a child’s emotional well-being and helped the child feel more joyful,” Salter said in a statement. “Clara’s Cottage playhouse will instill that same hope and joy. We are so grateful to the community of businesses who came together to help grant this life-changing wish.”

Help even came from a fellow "wish kid," she said.

“Wish kid Jordyn, her family and friends host an annual golf tournament known as Kids Fore A Wish to raise money to grant more wishes for other children with critical illnesses," Salter said. "Last year, this event raised $28,000 to help grant wishes including Clara’s. We are so inspired by their generosity and commitment to our mission.”

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Multiple people who helped fund raise to make Clara's wish possible posed for a photo on Friday.
Luke Hagen / Mitchell Republic

Clara has been going to early childhood classes and will begin more classes at First Lutheran Church in the fall. Fraser said despite her condition, Clara is a highly sociable young lady who loves being around other people.

“She’s very, very social. She absolutely loves doing anything that has other people there,” Fraser said.

The playhouse will be a welcome addition for the Frasers, and they’re looking forward to her enjoying some time in her new house. It’s a welcome gift for a little girl who has overcome many difficulties. Dozens of people showed their support Friday for Clara's wish day.

Now is a time for her to enjoy herself in her own little home, she said.

“It’s very, very special. She is such a fun-loving sweet girl with such a great personality. (It’s wonderful) for her to be able to get this one thing for herself. She’s been through a lot, and I mean a lot,” Fraser said. “We’re beyond excited.”

Related Topics: MITCHELLPEOPLE
Erik Kaufman joined the Mitchell Republic in July of 2019 as an education and features reporter. He grew up in Freeman, S.D., graduating from Freeman High School. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1999 with a major in English and a minor in computer science. He can be reached at ekaufman@mitchellrepublic.com.
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