12-year-old celebrates once-in-a-lifetime birthday today

Caption
(Monica Maschak – mmaschak@shawmedia.com)
Mallory Taylor plays with a balloon in her Spring Grove bedroom as her mother, Susan, watches. Mallory will turn 12 today – Dec. 12, 2012. Her family planned a big party for her at a local restaurant.

SPRING GROVE – If Mallory Taylor had her way, she’d wear a prom dress every day.

For her birthday today – a fortuitous collection of 12s – her parents, Jim and Susan Taylor, planned to surprise her with a “quite glamorous” dress in purple, her favorite color.

Even on a typical weekday, after getting home from school, Mallory was dressed in the holiday spirit in a red velvet dress with a sequined belt and, until it got too itchy, a sequined band around her head.

Mallory, who has Down syndrome, turns 12 today – the 12th day of the 12th month in 2012.

Her birth date was happenstance. Mallory was born about two weeks ahead of her Christmas due date.

The Down syndrome was a surprise to everyone, including the doctors, because Mallory has few of the markers that are visible in an ultrasound. She also has alopecia, which causes her immune system to attack her hair when she gets sick.

She had heart surgery at 5 months old and has had six surgeries since. Three remaining heart defects mean she might need a heart valve replacement in the future, her mother said.

Now a fifth-grader at Spring Grove Grade School, Mallory is well-known in the community. She’s in her fourth year of competitive cheerleading through Layton Athletics in Ringwood and participated in Girls on The Run, a program for girls that culminated in a 5K she ran with her mom.

The Taylors also foster cats through the Animal Outreach Humane Society of McHenry County, the nonprofit the Taylors are asking people to donate to in lieu of birthday gifts.

“Everywhere we go, everyone knows her,” said her father, Jim Taylor.

“People hand her stuff everywhere she goes,” Susan Taylor said, adding that sometimes it’s because strangers mistake her alopecia for the effects of chemotherapy.

Mallory’s luck swings from always winning contests to a trip to the hospital for a broken leg that escalated when a fat embolism migrated to her heart, causing cardiac arrest, Susan Taylor said.

None of that is going to stop Mallory from dancing through the evening. Her birthday party at the Dill Pickle Grill in Spring Grove will be disco-themed with a DJ, strobe lights and plenty of balloons.

The only thing missing will be the Rolling Stones, her favorite band, although the DJ definitely will play some of their hits, including her favorite, “Heart of Stone.”

“Every day, it’s been ‘Is it my birthday? Is it my birthday? Is it my birthday?’ “ her mother said.

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