NC Zoo, Make-A-Wish Foundation makes dream come true for girl with leukemia

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ASHEBORO, N.C. -- It was a long way from home, but 11-year old Joelle Loomis says it was well worth the trip.

She traveled to the Piedmont from Whitesboro, N.Y., Tuesday to see a longtime wish come true.

The North Carolina Zoo in partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation gave her a trip she will never forget.

"I really like animals and really wanted to hang out with them,” Loomis said.

Joelle says she wants to work with animals when she grows up. The Make-A-Wish team thought the North Carolina Zoo would be the perfect fit.

"Our zookeepers really pitch in and talk to the Make-A-Wish kids and take them places where the average visitor would not have the opportunity to interact with the animals and see them up close and personal,” Rod Hackney, with the North Carolina Zoo, said.

In September, Joelle was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Her visit to the zoo was a joyous moment for her family after what has been a challenging nine months.

"Just seeing the smile on her face, how happy she is, it's a smile that we don't get to see too often,” William Loomis, Joelle’s father, said.

One of the many highlights of Joelle’s tour included feeding baboons. One in particular made her something special.

"Candy, one of the baboons painted a picture with her foot for me, so that's cool,” Loomis said.

The visit to the zoo was more than a wish come true for Joelle, as her mother, Dusty Loomis said, it was a reminder for the entire family to cherish each moment.

"That is a reality of it, you never know how it's going to turn out, so those little things you forget to witness or enjoy when they happen you learn to enjoy them all over again."

Joelle will continue treatment through January 2016. She says she would like to swim with dolphins in the future.

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