KINGMAN - Emmalynn Faris has always wanted her own mailbox.
"Every day we go out to check the mail and she's always asking if there is anything for her," said Emmalynn's mom, Crystal.
More often than not, Emmalynn would walk away empty-handed.
"I just need my own mailbox," the 5-year-old would say.
Emmalynn got her wish Sunday thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Arizona, which arranged for the young cancer survivor to have her own lavender mailbox - and a playhouse to put it in front of.
"Thank you for making my wish come true," Emmalynn coyly smiled from beneath a princess crown during Sunday's surprise unveiling.
The two-story playhouse came equipped with a slide, loft area, faux kitchen, painted fireplace and a wooden porch swing.
The Faris family had applied for the wish last year, just a month or two before Emmalynn had been cleared of her pelvic and tailbone tumors. This November will mark one year in remission from the germ cell cancer she had battled for more than a year.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation said it grants wishes to any child who has battled a life-threatening illness and not just those with terminal conditions. Emmalynn's wish came courtesy of the workers at the Kingman Speedco Truck Lube off of exit 66, which beat out 53 other branches to earn the honor of picking a local charity to help. Employees picked Emmalynn after meeting her at several fundraisers last year, said general manager David Fransen.
Cliff Hinkle of J & J Plumbing prepped the yard by leveling the ground in the Faris' backyard. Work on the playhouse started at 6 a.m. last Thursday with a single builder, Colby Earl of Wood Manor, who worked through the heavy rain to keep the project on track. Kingman firefighters stopped by during construction to inspect the home and help with some heavy lifting.
Team Home Depot finished the job by painting the miniature home and adding finishing touches, such as a fake front yard and hanging flowerpots on the walk-around porch. Furnishings were provided by Aaron's Lease to Own, and Lory Marie Photography came out Sunday to make sure the moment was preserved in photographs.
The Faris family managed to keep the unveiling a surprise until Sunday by drawing the shades and keeping their daughters, including 3-year-old Jillian, out of the backyard. Crystal said the look on Emmalynn's face was worth the secrecy.
"When I saw her open her eyes, I heard this gasp," she said. "The look in her eyes was something I hadn't seen in a very long time. I will never forget that look."
Emmalynn hasn't suffered any setbacks since last November outside of some lingering pain, though Crystal said she worries about every sniffle and sneeze because Emmalynn is behind on her vaccinations at her doctor's request. But Emmalynn is resilient, she said, and was able to quickly bounce back from her ordeal of never-ending doctors appointments and hospital visits.
"Even when we were going through treatment, nothing kept her down," Crystal said. "That's a hero in my book."
Crystal said she had to tear her daughters away from the house later that night, only to find Emmalynn waiting with her new front door key in hand the next morning at 7 a.m.
"I can't thank everyone enough for helping us do this for her," she said.