Joyous holiday gift-opening arrived five months early for 150 patients of Children’s Hospital of Michigan — thanks to a heartfelt pay-it-forward gesture by a teenaged former Make-A-Wish benefactor, a wave of donors and some joy-spreading volunteers.
Seventeen-year-old Jude fueled the July 14 Christmas in July when he asked Make-A-Wish to bring joy to sick children hospitalized at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo — the facility in which he was successfully treated.
Make-A-Wish took Jude’s request several steps further by organizing a July toy drive for kids hospitalized in several Michigan children’s hospitals.
“When I was in the hospital, the one thing that would make me feel better is having something new to play with,” said Jude.
Smiles light up hospital
A smile-generating example from Friday’s event at Children’s Hospital unfolded in the room of James Howard III, a Lego-loving 5-year-old who recently marked his 100th day in the hospital while being treated for complications resulting from a heart transplant when he was an infant.
“James absolutely loves Legos, so when the volunteer elves wheeled in a cart of toys for him to choose from — it was a total surprise; the kids had no idea this was planned — and he saw a box of Legos, he was over the moon with joy,” said Children’s Hospital of Michigan Child Life Projects Specialist Sinead Nimmo.
“Scenes like this played out throughout the hospital when the kids got to pick out a toy. It was very touching, especially for the parents.”
Friday’s Christmas in July was the first of its kind at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, but probably not the last.
Jude and Make-A-Wish are continuing their mission to spread toys and joy to more children’s hospitals. To learn more about how you can contribute to this heart-warming cause, click here.
Jude’s original wish reveal can be viewed by clicking here.
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