Snakes warmed by teen's wish

Posted December 10, 2008 4:48 p.m. EST
Updated December 10, 2008 6:25 p.m. EST

— The Make-A-Wish Foundation offered Elizabeth Mize a chance to ask for anything in the world. The Angier teen spent the wish on about two dozen of her closest friends.

Elizabeth, 16, who has bone cancer, has 22 reptiles, including a dozen snakes and 10 lizards. The reptiles needed cages, she said, so she made one of the more unusual requests the Make-A-Wish Foundation has ever received.

"i didn't really want to go on a trip or anything," she said. "They kind of needed the cages, and the more cages you have, the more snakes you can get."

Make-A-Wish enlisted the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science in Durham to help find her cages made specially for her animals.

"We are a little jealous here at the museum. We'd like to have stuff this nice," said Sherry Samuels, the museum's animal director.  "It seems like no one deserves it more than Elizabeth. She's a reptile aficionado, and we need more people like that."

The museum plans to deliver the cages to Elizabeth's home, and she also received food and pet supplies as part of her wish.

The reptiles have become more than pets to her, her mother said.

"They give her something to focus on besides the illness," Amy Mize said.

A year ago, Elizabeth was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. She is on her second round of chemotherapy.

"(It's been) surgeries and chemotherapy and recovery," Amy Mize said. "It's been hard for her. It's been hard for everybody."

Elizabeth said she was surprised her wish was granted.

"It's something I never thought we could get, considering how expensive cages like that are," she said, adding that the snakes help her relax.

"They are kind of like dogs, except they don't go all hyperactive," she said.

Amy Mize said she hopes the cages and other gifts provide her daughter with a bit of healing outside the doctor's office.

"I just want her to be happy," she said, as she wiped away tears.