The Community Blood Center of the Carolinas and several members of the media visited Levine Children’s Hospital earlier this month to deliver stuffed toy puppies to sick children.
During November and December, CBCC, which supplies blood for 21 area hospitals, has encouraged their blood donors to sign “puppy tags” after donating blood. The tags are attached to the stuffed animals and delivered to area hospitals.
This year, CBCC also set up holiday trees in three hospitals: Levine Children’s Hospital, Gaston Memorial and Piedmont Medical in Rock Hill. Under each tree, dozens of stuffed puppies wait to be picked up by doctors, nurses or parents and given to children who are spending the holidays in the hospital.
Event coordinator Carrie Keuten said the tree has been very popular, bringing their children’s library some holiday spirit. CBCC promised more trees next year to go in community rooms on several floors.
On Dec. 6, CBCC and media personnel gathered in the Ryan Seacrest Studios on the ground floor of Levine Children’s Hospital. The studio, one of six across the country set up by the Ryan Seacrest Foundation, is often visited by young celebrities and special guests who are given the chance to meet some of the children.
The day started with an on-air interview of CBCC’s Director of Development Kim Jones and Adam Eberhart, communications liaison.
“It’s a great way for our blood donors to not only give the gift of life when they donate blood, but to give back to a child who is spending their holiday in the hospital,” Eberhart said.
The program also encourages blood donations during a difficult time of year.
“During the holidays we often struggle because of cold and flu season, as well as increased travel,” Jones said. “But the need for blood never diminishes.”
After the interview, Marissa Williams, 9, stood up from her wheelchair and walked with her therapist into the studio. After a stroke on Nov. 13, Marissa was left unable to walk or lift her arm. She has been staying at the hospital for physical therapy.
“It started out, she couldn’t walk,” said her father, David Williams. “But now she’s walking and getting along pretty good.”
Marissa has a collection of about 30 stuffed animals that come with her to the hospital, and she was particularly excited to add to her collection. She said she will name her new puppy Candy Cane, and as she slowly walked back to her wheelchair, she hugged Candy Cane to her chest.
Upstairs, several other children were given puppies. It was two-year-old Sam’s big personality that really stole the show.
“What did you bring me?” said Sam Rosebrock, shooting up in his bed.
Sam has spent most of the last year at Levine Children’s Hospital receiving chemotherapy, radiation, surgery and antibody therapy for the stage 4 neuroblastoma tumor found in his abdomen a year ago. Now he is officially in remission and he was wrapping up his last antibody therapy to ensure that the cancer stays dormant.
Sam’s family knows the importance of blood donation. Sam has received over 10 transfusions since being diagnosed. He recently returned home to Morganton with his family.
Lauren Bailey is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Lauren? Email her at email@example.com.
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