This is the story of little Maryrose Marlene Gaddy and her Thanksgiving miracle. Maryrose was born in Asheville, North Carolina, in 1960. She was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a serious childhood illness that interfered with her ability to breathe.

Maryrose Marlene Gaddy – The State: November 24, 1967

Despite her challenges, Maryrose was known as “Little Miss Happiness,” often performing acts of kindness for those around her. Her sweet disposition helped her win the hearts of Asheville and Buncombe County residents.

Maryrose and her mother periodically traveled to Chapel Hill by bus, some 220 miles away, for medical treatment. After one trip, Maryrose and her mom returned home to the Asheville bus station. They were exhausted and happily accepted a ride home from two Asheville police officers. As the car turned on Patton Avenue, 7-year-old Maryrose brightened. “You know what, Mommy? Someday, I’d like to stay a night on the top floor of that building over there,” she said, pointing to a sleek new hotel, the Downtowner Motor Inn.

The Asheville Times: January 23, 1964

Maryrose’s mother sighed and said slowly, “That will have to be your dream, Maryrose. But it can only be a dream because we could never afford it.” Listening from the front seat were officers Phil Bryson and J. W. Silvey. The sweet request touched their hearts.

Several weeks later, Officers Bryson and Silvey were investigating the theft of a TV at the Downtowner Motor Inn. While there, they mentioned the overheard conversation between Maryrose and her mother to the hotel’s proprietor, Joe Emerson Rose.

Mr. Rose quickly determined he could help a sick little girl achieve her dream and extended an invitation to the Gaddys. The day before Thanksgiving in 1967, Maryrose and her mother checked into the top-floor suite of the hotel. For 24 hours, the Downtowner rolled out the red carpet for its special VIP guests. They enjoyed two Thanksgiving feasts – one on Wednesday and one on Thanksgiving Day. But the highlight for Maryrose was her bird’s eye view overlooking Asheland Avenue and the annual Christmas parade. “I’m so excited my stomach’s about to die,” said Maryrose as she eagerly anticipated the parade’s start.  

Newspapers reported on Maryrose’s magical day, and her parents wrote a poignant letter of thanks to the community who banded together to treat their daughter like a “princess.”

The Asheville Times: December 7, 1967

In 1969, Maryrose lost her battle with cystic fibrosis. Her young life left an imprint on the community and, for just a moment, showed that Thanksgiving miracles can happen.

To learn more about Maryrose’s Thanksgiving miracle, search™ today.

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14 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Miracles Do Happen!

  1. Great story. Thanks for sharing it. I also lost a daughter to Cystic Fibrosis and am painting roses for her. I pray they find a cure one day.

    1. I’m so sorry you had to endure such pain with the loss of your child. Many prayers for all who are effected in all ways by cystic fibrosis. In the 70’s I remember bowling to raise money for the treatments and cure for cystic fibrosis. It’s promising to hear the life expectancy is longer than back then.

  2. What a sweet, sweet story .. I lost a sister and great nephew to this horrible disease .. I saw him struggle to breathe .. my sister was about 14 when she passed this was yrs before I come along

  3. 65 Roses is still fighting to stop this disease. Please Donate.
    God Bless the Families ho had to fight this.
    Sure would like to know the current life expectancy now a days.

    1. Hi Greg
      Current life expectancy for someone in the US with CF is approx. 50 years.
      Life expectancy for people born between 2018-2020 who develop CF is predicted to be approx. 56 years according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (

  4. Thanks for this wonderful story of a community’s love for a child. From the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation website, I found an answer to the question about current life expectancy. Such wonderful news!

    “During the 1950s, a child with CF rarely lived long enough to attend elementary school. Today, many people with CF achieving their dreams of attending college, pursuing careers, getting married, and having kids.”

  5. My brother and sister both died with CF. This is a wonderful example of giving hearts to those who suffer from a frightening disease. This made my day! The CF Foundation is fighting every day for those with this terrible illness and a cure will be found! Thanks for posting this! JA

  6. Wonderful Thanksgiving miracle. As I read it , I expected to find that this was the beginning of the Make a Wish Foundation.

  7. This is a beautiful story. Thank you for posting it. Thanks to all the wonderful, kind and caring people in the world who serve and minister to so many in need of relief, and happiness and joy in life. Every day can become a Thanksgiving day for someone as we dedicate our means to bless others in need.

  8. Thank you for allowing me to share this touching and timely story. I first read it in message from a small closed group with attribution to a site called

    Sharing uplifting stories are reasons to be thankful.

    1. Bless you for sharing this story and to remind us all to listen compassionately to the needs of those around us. Take the time to notice and to address the need, not the cause. You don’t have to be famous or wealthy to make a positive difference in the life of another. Every small act of kindness given with great love offers healing, generates hope.

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