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Make-A-Wish: Special trip planned for Bemidji girl, family

From left, Mary May, a volunteer with the local Make-A-Wish Foundation, hands a designer cake donated by Althea's Cakery to 8-year-old Grace Lauderbaugh of Bemidji. Lauderbaugh received a special send-off party from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She and her family leave for Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., next week. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI - Eight-year-old Grace Lauderbaugh of Bemidji has at times had to sit out physical education class at school or while her classmates played outside.

But on Thursday, Lauderbaugh was made the center attention as she, her mother and sister were treated to a pedicure and message at Bemidji's Professional Salon Academy. Lauderbaugh was given a new pair of sandals, a designer cake and given a ride home in a yellow Volkswagen bug vehicle.

The special party was thrown for Lauderbaugh as a send-off event hosted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation in recognition of a week-long trip she and her family will soon take to Walt Disney World Resort in Orland, Fla.

Lauderbaugh was diagnosed at birth with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a condition in which a person has extremely fragile bones. There is no cure for this disease, but certain therapies can reduce some pain and complications. For the past two years, Lauderbaugh has been undergoing intense intravenous treatment to strengthen her bones.

Lauderbaugh looks forward to visiting Discovery Cove in Orlando, where she wants to swim with dolphins, snorkel with tropical fish and more.

Her mother, Angie, was all smiles as she sat next to her daughter at the beauty salon. She said the whole family is looking forward to spending time in Florida.

Make-A-Wish Foundation of Minnesota is a nonprofit organization that grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. Throughout the past five years, the Make-A-Wish Foundation has granted roughly 30 wishes to youth in the Bemidji area, said Mary May, a local Make-A-Wish volunteer.