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5-year-old recovering from leukemia treatments gets her wish to meet animals at O.C. Fair

5-year-old recovering from leukemia treatments gets her wish to meet animals at O.C. Fair
Sabrina Simoes, 5, and her brother Clark, 3, visit with a goat Friday at the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa. Sabrina, who is recovering after a bout with leukemia, had her wish for an outdoor adventure with animals granted by the Orange County Fair and Make-A-Wish. (Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Sabrina Simoes got to name a 4-month-old piglet during a private tour of the Orange County fairgrounds on Friday. She called it Flower.

The Anaheim 5-year-old hadn’t been able to fulfill her dream of visiting a farm since being diagnosed with leukemia in December 2015. Her treatments made her susceptible to germs and infections.

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But now that she is cancer-free and no longer undergoing treatments, the chance to meet the animals at the fair allowed her be a kid again, according to Make-A-Wish Orange County and the Inland Empire, which joined with the fair to grant her wish.

“We have two little dogs at home, so she’s very attached to animals,” said Sabrina’s father, Dario.

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Sabrina’s first wish was to stay in a camper overnight at a farm so she could be close to the animals. Make-A-Wish thought the Orange County Fair would be a good alternative.

Sabrina Simoes, 5, holds hands with Centennial Farm supervisor Evy Young as Sabrina and her family meet animals Friday at the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa. The Orange County Fair and Make-A-Wish granted Sabrina's wish for an outdoor adventure.
Sabrina Simoes, 5, holds hands with Centennial Farm supervisor Evy Young as Sabrina and her family meet animals Friday at the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa. The Orange County Fair and Make-A-Wish granted Sabrina's wish for an outdoor adventure. (Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Sabrina showed up at the fairgrounds’ Centennial Farm before it opened to the public Friday wearing a pink shirt with white polka dots and a Minnie Mouse baseball cap. She giddily ran up with her sister Madilyn, 7, and brother Clark, 3, at a hutch containing a flock of chicks.

Farmhands carried some of the chicks to a box filled with wood shavings, where the Simoes children could hold and pet them. A Holland lop rabbit huddled in one corner of the box, waiting to be petted by eager fingers.

Sarah Kupelian, a crew member with the Great American Petting Zoo, visited Centennial Farm with Oreo — a pygmy goat — and the Juliana piglet that Sabrina was asked to name.

Sabrina Simoes playfully bites her mother, Nora, on the chin as they visit animals at Centennial Farm at the OC Fair & Event Center on Friday.
Sabrina Simoes playfully bites her mother, Nora, on the chin as they visit animals at Centennial Farm at the OC Fair & Event Center on Friday. (Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Sabrina’s mother, Nora, said touring the animal enclosures before the fairgrounds opened was an amazing experience.

“I don’t think we would have ever come to the O.C. Fair, because it’s a lot of work with three kids,” she said.

Getting to pet Patches, a 3,000-pound ox who lives at Centennial Farm, and brush Belina, a dromedary visiting from Oasis Camel Dairy in Ramona, also helped make the day special for the family.

With her mom and dad’s permission, Sabrina skipped her second day of kindergarten to visit the animals and seemed as energetic as any other 5-year-old.

During her leukemia treatments, it was common for her to jump off the couch within an hour after receiving her chemotherapy infusions, Dario Simoes said.

“Our joke was that we have a 2-year-old on steroids,” he said.

Daniel Langhorne is a contributor to Times Community News.

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