While in the hospital, 4-year-old Olivia Sexton helped design the playhouse which now sits in the backyard of her family home.

Olivia Sexton’s hair lets everyone know she’s happy.

The same goes for his backyard gambling house.

“My favorite color is the rainbow,” she says proudly.

And her favorite color is everywhere.

4-year-old Olivia Sexton shows off her rainbow hair in front of her rainbow playhouse she helped design. The gambling house was funded by Make-A-Wish. Olivia underwent a bone marrow transplant after being diagnosed with a rare form of bone marrow failure. Photo by Paul Valence

At 4 years old, Olivia has spent a large part of her life with doctors, hospitals, clinics.

These days, she spends a lot of time at her home away from home, which is just yards from the backdoor of the Clark County family home.

It would be her playhouse. And not just any playhouse, but a house with a swing, a flower bed, and a window that she uses to provide a drive-thru for the imaginary cookies she bakes. Inside, a small bedroom, with a small bed, pillows of different colors, and there are also plenty of books.

On the other side of the “house” part of the gambling house is a pirate ship. Hey!

And a slide, too, so she can escape.

Not. Ladders. And enough portals that are perfectly sized for Olivia but a little adjusted for her parents.

It was Olivia’s dream house.

And Make-A-Wish made it happen. The foundation’s mission is to create life changing wishes for children with serious illnesses.

When she was one year old, Olivia was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia, a rare form of bone marrow failure. Without treatment, it’s fatal.

In March 2020, as the pandemic swept through society, it was determined that Olivia was in need of a bone marrow transplant. She underwent the surgery in June and spent six weeks in the hospital. It was around this time that Make-A-Wish came on board.

Olivia wanted a gambling den. And not just any gambling den. She also wanted to help design it.

“Olivia was instrumental in planning what she wanted to look like,” said Olivia’s mother Lori Sexton. “She spent a lot of time in the hospital, but she could think of that rather than the treatment.

“You don’t understand the impact this has until you’ve experienced it,” Lori added. “It was tough in the hospital. Just being able to talk about (the gambling den), dreaming about it, for her, it was a very good escape from everything that was going on.

There is a sign outside the entrance that says Olivia’s Rainbowtastic Playhouse, a nice touch to this backyard masterpiece.

The performance hall was completed in October.

Olivia Sexton loves to take care of her flowers outside her playhouse.  It was his wish to have a play structure in his garden.  Make-A-Wish has made this a reality.  Photo by Paul Valence
Olivia Sexton loves to take care of her flowers outside her playhouse. It was his wish to have a play structure in his garden. Make-A-Wish has made this a reality. Photo by Paul Valence

As spring is about to turn into summer, Olivia is spending even more time in her playhouse. And she’s not done with the creative process. She and her parents, Lori and Michael, continue to work on the painting. One side looks complete, with those rainbow colors.

Now Olivia and her family pay next. Olivia is the Make-A-Wish Ambassador for the Portland and Southwest Washington area, raising funds for the association in hopes of being able to grant the wishes of other children in need. In total, more than 100 children in the region are waiting for their wishes to be granted, according to the foundation.

Olivia was the team captain for a virtual event, raising funds for Olivia’s Rainbowtastic Walkers. The walk event has ended, but the fundraising link will remain open until the end of June. Additionally, Olivia and her family will have other fundraising opportunities throughout the year.

“She wants them to get their stuff too,” said Lori, referring to the wishes of other children.

In person, Olivia is calm. I wouldn’t even know she’s a big deal on social media. It all started with her hair.

Along with the bone marrow transplant, she also had to undergo chemotherapy treatment. (While many people associate chemotherapy with cancer, Lori said it’s important to note that Olivia doesn’t have cancer.) However, among the side effects of chemotherapy is hair loss. .

“At 3, she was in love with her hair,” Lori wrote in a note explaining Olivia’s journey. “She was crushed by the thought of losing him.”

Mom had an idea: before she disappears, how about Olivia picking a color? Her hair could turn any color.

Olivia wanted, yes, rainbow colors.

Interestingly enough, last spring no hair salon was open. Lori had never done anything like this. But mom found a bunch of different colors and gave it a try.

“I was shocked at how well it went,” Lori said.

She took some photos and shared them on Facebook. The publication received more than 28,000 shares.

Lori had also created a page for Olivia, to give her family and friends an update on the battle with SAA. His followers have grown from a few dozen people to over 30,000.

“I never intended for Olivia to go viral, but it was wonderful in so many ways,” Lori said.

The family’s support group grew, but also, other parents of children with aplastic anemia were able to come into contact with Lori. They were able to share their experiences.

The Sexton family has used this new “fame” for good, spreading the word about important organizations. This would include Be The Match, a bone marrow registry to help find donors for patients in need of transplants.

Also, the American Red Cross. During Olivia’s trip, she received 99 blood transfusions.

And, of course, Make-A-Wish.

To donate to his team of walkers, go here: www.oregon.wish.org/Olivia

And her main fundraising page is here: http://site.wish.org/goto/Olivia2021

Regarding Olivia, Lori says she is doing very well, a year after the transplant.

“Olivia will be under surveillance for life,” said Lori. “His journey is far from over. But despite everything, I have no doubts that she will continue to grow and prosper. For updates on Olivia’s journey go here: https://www.facebook.com/oliviasrainbowtasticlife/