Five year old Sophia Chiappalone was born with a heart defect that, so far, has called for three open-heart surgeries. She has another scheduled for mid-November, but before that happens, she told her mom she wanted to marry her preschool sweetheart, 6-year-old Hunter Laferriere.
When Sophia’s mom, Kristy Somerset-Chiappalone, relayed the wish to Hunter’s mom, Tracy Laferriere, Tracy told her son, who quickly agreed to dress the part of groom. “He’d do anything to make her happy,” Tracy says. “She always agrees to play Mario with him, so I think he’d happily marry her. They have a chemistry that’s magnetic, it’s adorable to watch.”
Tracy booked her best friend and photographer, Marisa Balletti-Lavoie of Sassy Mouth Photography, and they staged a mock wedding photo shoot on October 23. “I teared up watching her get all dressed up,” said Kristy.
“I was terrified once again, like so many other milestones and events, that this may be the only time I see my baby in a wedding dress, that her miracles and time would run out before that day.”
Kristy says her daughter was born with a genetic heart defect and no connection between her heart and pulmonary arteries, which is needed for blood to flow to the lungs. Days after Sophia was born, she underwent open-heart surgery. She will continue to require surgical interventions throughout her life.
Although the extent of Sophia’s health issues remains unknown, doctors think she has DiGeorge syndrome, a chromosomal disorder that can affect the development of various bodily systems, leading to heart defects and poor immune function, according to MayoClinic.org.
Sophia’s auto-immune issues can leave her very sick, according to Kristy, who takes care of her daughter full time. (Sophia’s parents were divorced several years ago, and her father now lives about seven hours from Sophia, her mom, and her two sisters, who live in Connecticut.) A GoFundMe page has been set up on Sophia’s behalf to help cover medical expenses.
Now experiencing lung failure, Sophia will head to Boston Children’s Medical Center in mid-November for surgery, but hopefully, her big heart — and new “husband” — will help her soldier through.