Sunday, April 22, 2007

Need something to smile about?

If that photo doesn't make you smile, then maybe this will: That photo is of Emma, my great-niece. She is now 14 months old and has spent most of the last 5 months of her life in the hospital after being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). She started responding to the treatments immediately and is now doing beautifully. She still gets chemo once a week, but she is officially in remission. She is crawling everywhere and loves to explore. She'll be walking before long. She can say three words so far: "Hi," "Daddy," and a word we don't recognize but clearly means "Mine!"

While that's smile material right there, there's more. Whenever you wonder what's gotten into people these days, think of these people:

A lady I know only through an internet forum read about Emma in my postings and sent me gifts for her, including a stuffed puppy and bunny that Emma loves!

Back in December some people in Emma's hometown of Festus, Missouri (population 9,000) wanted to help out. First there was a raffle and a giant stocking that people could put little gifts in for her. This caught the attention of the local paper, who did an article about her. A little boy who read the article confessed to his mother that he'd already peeked at his Christmas presents, and since he was really too old for that Tickle Me Elmo, he wanted to give it to Emma. They did.

Then the people who organized the raffle decided to go all out, and they organized a huge benefit for Emma in March. There was a full day of events, starting with a motorcycle poker run and culminating in an evening of music, food and an auction. It was a huge undertaking! They raised enough money for her parents to buy a nearly-new car for the drives to the hospital 50 miles away. They were putting more than 500 miles a week on their old car, which was literally held together with duct tape in places.

6-year-old Dilan heard about Emma. He had been collecting tab-tops from soda cans to recycle and save money to buy an XBox. He decided to give them to Emma instead. He and his parents brought them to the benefit and presented them to her mom, Anna.

120 bikers participated in the poker run and then came to the benefit for the chicken & dumplings dinner, beer and music. They were all wearing pink buttons with Emma's photo that said "Riding For Emma."

Emma actually got to make a cameo appearance that evening. She waved to everyone and then ignored them to focus on the microphone Grandpa Tim was using, which she seemed to think was pretty fascinating.

When the local paper ran an article about the benefit, a woman who read the article called the family and offered to rent a house to Emma's parents at a very reduced rate so they could have their own place instead of having to live with family. Not only do they now have a place to call their own, but it's actually closer to the hospital, which is great.

This photo is of Emma a couple of days after her first birthday, and believe it or not, it was taken in her hospital room.

If you just can't stand to watch the news for one more second, check out Emma's website for more photos. We set up the site so family and friends could see the latest photos and get the latest news, but it'll make anybody smile, I guarantee it!


newnorth said...

love the shot....nice story

Lexa said...

Hi, I followed your comment on Kate's blog here. Hope you don't mind. She's such a little darling, but I loooove the little boy with the Tickle Me Elmo. Wow, what a sweetheart!

crazymom said...

I don't mind a bit, lexa!