Stories of Giving: Holiday Heroes at Children’s

No child would choose to be in the hospital during the holidays. Yet that’s where the sickest kids and their families often spend the holidays. At Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, we work hard to give them a few moments when illness takes a backseat to the holiday spirit.

That isn’t always easy, since surgeries and treatments must go on. But there’s nothing more rewarding than the smiles we see at Children's during the holidays when a Christmas elf or a therapy dog shows up to bring cheer to a sick child. These kids’ spirits shine through and light up the room.

Support from people like you is what makes these miracles happen. Read about a few of our holiday cheer ambassadors, and then take the next step—a generous donation to Children’s.

Home for Christmas—with a Little Help from Casper

Sometimes the best medicine doesn’t involve a prescription or an operation. A cold nose, a warm heart and a wagging tail can work wonders, especially for kids. And one expert in this medical specialty is a golden retriever named Casper.

Casper is one of our pet therapy animals. These animal  therapists can lower kids’ stress and even help relieve pain. But what our young patients see is much simpler—a furry friend that provides unconditional love.

That’s what happened with 3-year-old Emmy from Woodstock, Ga. after her surgery at Children’s. Casper cuddled with Emmy every day as she recovered, and even helped her get home in time for Christmas. She needed to walk before she could be discharged, but pain kept her from trying until Casper worked his magic. Emmy held his leash as she took a few slow steps and then took off down the hall with Casper by her side.

“I don’t believe Emmy would have been able to walk that day without Casper,” says Emmy’s mom.

     

 

Hanukkah Hero

Anna knows what it’s like to be a kid in the hospital. She’s visited us for ear tubes, a tonsillectomy, a broken arm and, most seriously, a venous malformation that required surgery. For Hanukkah last year, she asked for only one gift: cash. She then took that cash and donated it to support the kids in our care.

The Wisdom of Children

Jerry Hatcher, Jr., has a holiday ritual that sets him apart from most kids his age. He gets up early on Christmas Eve, goes to the hospital and gives money to strangers.

Except they’re not really strangers.

Jerry Jr. feels like he knows these families of sick children, since he almost lost his own younger brother to illness a few years ago. To cheer these folks up he gets a ride to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta with his parents, goes to the cafeteria and hides behind the cash register. Each time a patient’s family member reaches for a wallet he jumps up to wish them Merry Christmas—and hands them some cash.

Jerry Jr. has figured out something it often takes decades to learn— it feels great to give, especially for a good cause. He earns and saves all year for this moment, and he’s rewarded with hugs and happy tears from the surprised families.