The idea for the foundation came from experiences in the hospital with Anna. Teens use computers and cell phones to communicate with, but for a child in the hospital, it can be very lonely – when during school – and after school because of extracurricular activities – friends are not available to talk, text or facetime, instagram or snapchat. This makes it even more important for the kids in the hospital to have other activities to do. While there are many activities for younger children to do, there were not as many for the lder teens, whose interests are different. Anna loved doing various projects brought into the hospital. The projects helped to pass the time, but more importantly, gave Anna a sense of accomplishment and she was able to look at her finished work and admire it. As a parent, it is a wonderful thing to see a child happy, and even more so a child who may not survive their illness.
Anna also enjoyed going to Hershey Park with friends. She loved the rides – especially roller coasters. At one point in her life, she didn’t like these, but once she knew she had little chance for surviving, she decided that she was going to go anyway, because at that point it didn’t matter. With this courage, she found she loved the roller coasters and would ride them all day with her friends. This is the reason why we also purchase Hershey Park tickets, including meal and game vouchers. Having a child who is ill can be a financial burden on a family and we wanted to be able to allow a family to enjoy the park with relatively little expense.
Because these little things helped Anna, we are hoping that they also help other teens and their parents. If they take their mind off the hospitalization or illness for even a minute or two, that is great. As a parent, seeing your child who is ill enjoy something can change everything and lighten the load. This is why Anna’s Gift exists. To bring happiness to those who are hurting. Although Anna is gone, some of the best memories are of projects we did together, and remembering her happiness. Some of these objects are on display in our house. To look at them still brings smiles, remembering her happiness and joy at the time she made them.