It didn't take me long to feel at home and safe within the walls of Sick Kids. You can ask any patient or former patient, Sick Kids is built upon a foundation of hope and magic. I learned to identify myself at Sick Kids, it became my second home and it became apart of me. I had my first love within those walls, and my first heartbreak, I shed many tears but also shared many laughs. I learned who I was at Sick Kids, I learned that it's okay to not be okay, and I learned that my calling in life was to become a pediatric nurse and work within that same building one day.
I spent months in the hospital and distinctly remember the volunteers, nurses, and visitors that made my stay special. I remember the gifts I was given that still comfort me to this day. Most importantly, I remember the day that I sat lonely on my bed wondering when someone would care? I vowed that day to make sure no one ever would feel that way, and I soon became "someone".
Sick Kids became my safe place, it became my second home. Now at 21 I still find myself walking into SickKids and feeling at ease. Despite all the good memories in SickKids there still were times I lay within my hospital room in tears, fearful and afraid of what the future held for me. I craved comfort and company. It was one night that I made a promise to myself no matter how sick I got, I would never be too sick to give back.
Alas, I began my initiatives at the hospital to bring comfort to each child I got to visit and meet. I didn't want them to have another mom, or nurse, or volunteer...I wanted them to have a friend. Someone safe that understood their struggles, someone that they didn't have to "be okay" or "be strong" for. I also provide babysitting services to families of Sick Kids free of charge. A few months ago I had the priviledge of spending time with two special sisters, one of whom was battling cancer while their parents went on a well deserved dinner. Thanks to contributions from my high school graduating class and donations from others I was able to bring her and her sister arts and crafts, games, DVDs and have a fun evening forgetting about being sick and being in the hospital.
I still visit kids at SickKids on a weekly basis, I bring them arts and crafts and blankets or PJs for comfort. BonfireFunds helped make that a reality and helped bring comfort to the kids who really teach me so much by their smiles. I wouldn't change my experience or my life for anything, I feel I've been given this life for a reason and I intend to make my mark on this world and make the lives of families who are within the walls of the hospital easier. It's truly the little things that become most important, and everyone that contributed to my fund helped make me and the kids of Sick Kids so happy.
This was my first experience using a website like Bonfire. I have seen a few other sites with a similar idea, but they were incredibly frustrating to design and maneuver and only few actually shipped worldwide. Let's be honest - I'm going into a pediatric oncology nursing career, the last thing I know how to do is design an aesthetically pleasing t-shirt. Bonfire funds made that possible for me, and if I can do it, anyone can.
The most powerful effect of social media is that there are no boundaries, there are no countries, I can reach anyone anywhere and it was important for me to be able to have the potential for that impact. I have family and friends all around the world, and that's the best thing about Bonfire is that they can contribute without the crazy high prices of shipping or the lack of size availability. Another deciding factor for me was the versatility in styles that people could purchase, in an organization specifically targeted to children it was very important to me that children were also able to wear the t-shirts and know they supported a kid at SickKids.