‘I expected nerd heaven and it was!’: Teen with rare disease meets Harry Potter actors

 ‘I expected nerd heaven and it was!’: Teen with rare disease meets Harry Potter actors
Madelyn Richards of Gulfport, pictured center, was a VIP guest at Keystone Comic Con last weekend, where she got to meet actors from the Harry Potter movie franchise. (Source: Kids Wish Network)

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (WLOX) - For a girl whose bedroom walls are covered in Harry Potter memorabilia, meeting the cast of her favorite movie was a dream come true. Or, as she put it: “Nerd heaven!”

Madelyn Richards of Gulfport has been a lifelong fan of the wizarding world of Harry Potter. Last week, the 17-year-old got to live out her fandom with some of the actors that star in the blockbuster film.

Madelyn, pictured second from left, got to meet "the Weasley trio" from the Harry Potter movie franchhise.
Madelyn, pictured second from left, got to meet "the Weasley trio" from the Harry Potter movie franchhise. (Source: Kids Wish Network)

Madelyn - who struggles each day with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome - was flown to the Keystone Comic Con event Philadelphia, Pa., courtesy of Kids Wish Network, a charity that grants wishes for children battling life-threatening illnesses.

"I expected nerd heaven and it was!” exclaimed Madelyn about her time at the comic con.

Aside from being given three-day VIP access to the pop culture adventure, Madelyn had an unforgettable experience meeting Bonnie Wright, who portrayed Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter franchise, as well as twins James and Oliver Phelps, who play Fred and George Weasley. She even got to spend some one-on-one time with Wright.

Madelyn, left, got to meet and spend time with Bonnie Wright, who portrayed Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter movie franchise.
Madelyn, left, got to meet and spend time with Bonnie Wright, who portrayed Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter movie franchise. (Source: Kids Wish Network)

“My favorite part was spending time with Bonnie Wright and James and Oliver Phelps,” said Madelyn. “They all hugged me and I tried not to cry. The Phelps twins said that Bonnie and I look like we could be related. That was the biggest compliment of my life!”

Aside from getting to meet 'the Weasley trio" and taking many photos with them, Madelyn was front and center during two of the event’s panels, “Harry Potter Reunion: The Weasleys” and "The Tom Holland Spotlight.”

“She was ecstatic throughout her wish and was smiling the entire weekend,” said her dad Justin Richards.

Madelyn poses with a Severus Snape impersonator in front of the crests of the Gryffindor and Ravenclaw houses.
Madelyn poses with a Severus Snape impersonator in front of the crests of the Gryffindor and Ravenclaw houses. (Source: Kids Wish Network)

While at Keystone Comic Con, Madelyn got to see featured celebrities, have photo ops, sit in on panels, browse merchandise booths selling unique pop culture items, and meet professional artists and cosplayers. She and her dad also enjoyed swanky accommodations at Sonesta Philadelphia Rittenhouse Square and dinner at Cavanaugh’s Rittenhouse.

Madelyn has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a rare connective tissue primarily affecting the skin, joints, and blood vessel walls. The disease can have severe and potentially life-threatening complications.

Being able to travel and attend an event like Keystone Comic Con was truly an experience like no other Madelyn has had. And it was all thanks to Kids Wish Network.

“We’re thankful to everyone at Keystone Comic Con, Bonnie Wright and James and Oliver Phelps for making Madelyn’s wish as magical as her favorite Harry Potter movies," said Kids Wish director Tam Lai.

Kids Wish Network is a national charitable organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children with life-threatening conditions and struggling with life-altering situations. KWN provides for trip expenses, meals, accommodations and additional spending monies to all wish families whenever traveling as applicable. Visit www.kidswishnetwork.org to learn about our different programs and refer a child.

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