For young patients who find themselves spending much time in the Hospital, a visit from someone special can really help brighten their day. Ashley Wade, who is also a devout New York Islanders fan, knows this firsthand as she has been on both sides of this scenario – as a patient, and as someone who, like the New York Islanders players who recently visited Winthrop's Hagedorn Pediatric Inpatient Center, has helped young patients take their minds off of being in the Hospital.
Patient Ashley Wade (second from right) with New York Islanders (l.-r.) defenseman Andrew MacDonald, goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, left wing Thomas Vanek and center Peter Regin during their recent visit to Winthrop.
On December 18, 2013, goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, defenseman Andrew MacDonald, left wing Thomas Vanek and center Peter Regin visited The Children's Medical Center at Winthrop to give gifts, sign autographs and spread cheer among young patients who found themselves in the Hospital this holiday season.
"It's tough to see kids in these types of situations," Mr. MacDonald said. "From a player perspective, being able to put a smile on their faces is pretty special and it's an experience for us that we don't forget. We really enjoy making these visits and we take a lot from them."
Ms. Wade understands how much a smile really can turn a patient's day around. After being diagnosed with Crohn's disease by Winthrop pediatric gastroenterologist Tuvia Marciano, DO, she spent a good deal of time at Winthrop over the past several years. During one of her hospital stays around the holidays, she received a gingerbread house from an elderly volunteer who would often visit sick children. The visit not only cheered her up, but motivated her to do something great for others.
"It gave me the idea that if I could do the same thing for other children, maybe they would forget that they were sick – if even for just a little bit," she said.
Wanting to give back and bring joy to the lives of children suffering from chronic illnesses, she started the Ashley Wade Foundation, and with the help of her family and friends, Ms. Wade now makes coming to Winthrop to throw special pizza parties along with other fun activities a regular occurrence for the Hospital's young patients.
"It is the best feeling to see patients forget about their pain and just be happy, normal kids," she said.
"We deeply appreciate all that the New York Islanders and Ashley have done to lift the spirits of our patients," said Nicole Almeida, MS, CCLS, Director of the Child Life Program at Winthrop. "It really does make all the difference."
For more information about the Ashley Wade Foundation, visit www.ashleywadefoundation.org. For information about Winthrop's Child Life Program, visit www.winthrop.org or call 1-866-WINTHROP.