Girl, 8, With Mysterious Disease Gets Parade Complete With Santa, Firetrucks and Cop Cars

Addi Carroll, 8, suffers from a disease no one can name.
Addi Carroll got a surprise visit from Santa.Tammy Carroll

A sick little girl in Vermont got her own parade and a visit from Santa.

No one — not the doctors, the specialists or even scientists at the National Institute of Health — knows what is ravaging the 8-year-old body of Addi Carroll.

Her immune system goes crazy, her brain swells, she is legally deaf and legally blind. "Nobody can figure out the root cause," her mother, Tammy Carroll, told Thursday. After a battery of tests and doctor visits, it was decided Addi had a life-threatening disease that had never been seen before.

She recently got out of the hospital, where she was treated for severe anemia. Her immune system is severely weakened and she cannot be around children "because of those pesky germs," her mom said.

None of which makes for a festive holiday mood. So the local fire department, which dotes on Addi, decided to surprise her and cheer her up.

The Essex Fire Department in Vermont decided to send a parade of fire engines, lights blazing, down Addi's street and up to her drive. There were also police cars and an ambulance. 

"Oh, my goodness, she loved it," her mother recounted. "We brought her out right before the fire chief came." Bundled against the cold and snow, Addi's eyes danced as she watched the colorful procession. "She squealed with delight," her mom said.

She was a tad disappointed she couldn't hug all the firefighters, lest they pass her some sniffle or cold. The child occupies a special place in the department's collective heart. Over the summer, after Addi endured yet another hospital stay, they named her an "honorary fire girl."

"She takes her responsibility very seriously," her mother said, laughing. 

"She was very touched to have the chief come to her house," Addi's mom said. "She made the chief say 'Ho, ho, ho.'"

Essex, a small town outside Burlington, rallies around Addi. "She got a real big social streak in her," Carroll said. 

The chief had approached Addi's parents to ask if the parade would be OK with them. Of course, they said. Then "the firefighters started chatting with their friends," Carroll explained. "Then the police wanted to send their cars, then the EMTs wanted to send an ambulance. So then they had to block off the street, and that's when the local TV station caught on."

It spread from there, making Addi and her parade famous.

"People need to see good news," her mother said. "They need to know that people do good things, especially at this time of the year."