Girl burned during bonfire accident nominated as Hero of the Year

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- From tragedy to meeting her idol Taylor Swift, Isabella McCune has had a busy year.

Isabella is slowly transitioning back to normal life at home, after spending a grueling nine months in the hospital recovering from severe burns. On Thursday, she went back to the hospital thinking she needed more treatments. Instead of more treatments, Isabella got a surprise instead.

Isabella is only nine years old, but wise beyond her years with her bravery and strength. It is something the hospital staff noticed during her nine months there, so when the staff members were asked to nominate someone as the Hero of the Year, they knew who to choose.

"Really made an impression on how determined she is and how strong she is," said Kyla brown, Child Life Coordinator for Arizona Children's Center at Maricopa Integrated Health System.

When Isabella went to the Maricopa Medical Center, she had no idea what the Kids Wish Network had planned: a pizza party and an award as the Hero of the Year finalist, along with a pink Apple Watch and $1,000 Walmart gift card.

"I was really surprised because my physical therapist said I was just coming for therapy," said Isabella.

Last March on St. Patrick's Day, Isabella was in a bonfire accident, suffering third-degree burns to half her body. For months, she was going through painful procedures like skin grafting.

"The body's natural response is the body doesn't want to be hurt so when they are taking the good skin off of her uninjured areas to cover the injured areas, those areas were extremely painful," said Isabella's mother, Lilly McCune.

One way Isabella said she got through those painful times was listening to Taylor Swift. Her favorite song was "Ready For It", but in May, when Isabella wasn't quite ready for it, the pop star made a surprise visit.

"My mom just walked in," Isabella recounted. "She was all dressed up, she was in heels. My brother was dressed up. He had showered for once. They just came into the room all dressed up and I was like, 'what is happening?' And then, Taylor Swift just started walking down the hallway and she came in."

Isabella has a message for others who are going through hardships.

"I would just think about, go day by day, don't think about what could happen, just focus on what's happening today instead of worrying about tomorrow," said Isabella.

Isabella's mom said her daughter now dreams of becoming a nurse to help care for patients, just as she was once taken care of at Maricopa Medical Center. As for her scars, Isabella calls them her "badges of honor".