Update on the hospital visit and 912 in action
Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year, fellow Patriots
As we all transition from the December winter holidays into January’s new year, I just wanted to say “THANK YOU” to everyone who donated presents this year to so many children through our Palms West Hospital “Holiday Toy Story” gift drive. To each of you who donated toys, games, stuffed animals and other children’s gifts… ***THANK YOU***.
Our 10th annual Christmas and Hanukkah toy drive was only made possible by your generosity.
On December 24th, Christmas Eve, my wife Shannon and I led our children down the hallways of the pediatric ward at Palms West Hospital to begin handing out your donations.
It is powerful to see the impact that a few people can really make, to bring SMILES and JOY to the faces of the toddlers, children and teenagers of our community spending their Hanukkah or Christmas in a HOSPITAL BED. Some of the biggest tears I saw came from the parents, standing bedside beside their children…
In only 48 minutes, our gift bags were emptied. The enthusiasm is infectious, as kids in adjacent rooms begin to wonder what all the commotion and laughter in the hallways is from. Let me tell you: In less than an hour, your holiday spirit touched a lot of kids and parents. I just wanted to share a couple stories…
– Byron, aged 5. Sitting upright in his pajamas besides his mother. Byron’s scalp was bald, an effect from his leukemia treatments. He was so ill, he was the only child that seemed unable to smile. But when asked if he would like to choose a toy or gift – he chose a game of “Cup Pong” because he could play a ball game without having to move much!
– Elijah, aged 2. HUGE brown eyes, just the sweetest looking little boy! Scooped up in his mother’s arms, Elijah smiled to the sight of a stuffed animal he picked out. His mother asked us if we could think of him in our prayers this Christmas – he is in need of a liver transplant and needs a donor.
– Ethan, aged 3. Wanted to go home this Christmas, because he’s tired of his brother pulling him “too fast” in his little red wagon around the hallways LOL!
– Whyllie, aged 13. Suffering from complications of sickle cell. When he saw the soccer ball, he lit right up – as weakly as he was – telling us that he grew up playing soccer in Jamaica, and he LOVED soccer.
– Sincere, aged 10. The nurse told us Sincere is “my favorite”. He has been a regular in Palms West from the time he was born – he knows them all by name. She said when the nurses kiss him, he gets bashful. Sincere has had a kidney disease since birth, and feels great chronic pain. He pointed at a floppy-eared stuffed dog, and just SQUEEZED him with the sweetest, most heartfelt hug you can imagine.
– Brandon, aged 12 months old. Little Brandon was diagnosed a couple months ago with cancer… he had a “Happy Birthday” balloon attached to his crib walls . We were out of “infant” toys and animals when we got to him. We asked Mom, “ Is there anything you think he would like?” My son thought he would like a football – when he placed it beside the baby, he shrieked with glee when the football wobbled. SO funny! So sweet… we can’t cure his cancer, but shoot – for a minute, that little guy laughed – and that made his mother smile.
– Dylan, aged 3 – he told us he likes to be called “Superman!” He had a little cast on his arm. When we came in the room with toys, his breath drew in – “WHAAH!!” We just laughed – so adorable.
As we left the hospital, after scrubbing our hands and arms with sanitizer after washing up, we got an unexpected surprise… “Superman” Dylan was LEAVING THE HOSPITAL. Mom beamed that her baby got to go home for Christmas. He told my kids, with a tear in his eye, “I’m going HOME! I’m going to see SANTA!!”
I can’t describe what that feels like.
THANK YOU, everyone, for making this year’s holiday a Christmas & Hanukkah that a few local kids will NEVER forget. (NOR their parents.)
Happy New Year…
Douglas and Shannon Armstrong