Two years ago, on Easter day, I received a text message with a photo wishing me and my family Happy Easter. It was a beautiful photo of my best friend’s daughters and their cousins, celebrating their holiday during a family vacation off the coast of Mexico. Just seconds later their lives would be forever changed.
Moments after this photo was taken Maddi, at the time just 5 years old, the youngest of the three Raimondo girls, took a tragic misstep and fell off of the rooftop deck. Jenny literally watched helplessly as her daughter’s eyes locked with hers while she was falling. Racing to the street below it was several minutes before they knew if Maddi had survived the fall. It took a total of 2 hours that included an ambulance ride, a ferry ride and still another ambulance ride, before they could get Maddi to a hospital in the nearest city of Cancun. During this time they did not know what injuries, other than the obvious external, had occurred.The 2 hours felt like 2 weeks. The felt helpless and terrified. Admitted to an emergency room in a hospital in a foreign country, they fought the language barrier to try to figure out their next step. Over the next 2 days test were run and surgery was deemed necessary to deal with many broken bones, internal bleeding and skull fractures. Dozens of frantic phone calls were placed, x-rays were emailed, and financial arrangements were made to obtain a medically staffed flight to transport Maddi to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. They landed in Philadelphia a full 2 1/2 days after her initial fall, exhausted, terrified and grateful to be at home at one of the best pediatric care hospitals in our country.
Everything at C.H.O.P. is bright, upbeat and meant to make children feel comfortable while they are spending time at the hospital. In spite of the surroundings many children and their families are often anxious, scared and restless. The days are long and full of lots of tests and visits from all kinds of nurses and doctors. Some patients are confined to their rooms or to their beds. Crafts, coloring, and playing games work as distraction, entertainment, and even therapy. Not knowing how to help, friends and family of Maddi sent in crafts, books and games to try and keep Maddi busy and occupied. Jenny was grateful for these gifts as they would brighten up Maddi’s day and give her something to do. They were basic and small purchases, but they gave the family something to do together and put smiles on their faces.
Today if you were to meet Maddi for the first time she looks like every other little girl her age. The bruises are gone but far from forgotten. But her and her family are forever changed. It has been a very long road that has included surgeries, physical rehab and countless visits with different doctors. There are still obstacles, both physical and emotional to surmount, and only time will tell for sure what challenges will appear. Maddi is in first grade this year and there have been so many unforeseen obstacles as they navigate the physical and academic situations at her school. But she was there with her family to celebrate her 6th birthday this past January. Friends and family were in attendance to watch her blow out her candles. There was an enormous amount of emotion as the reality was before us all of just how precious this particular birthday really was.
Jenny, for sure, has changed, both as a mother and a human being. Time stood still and a new sense of gratitude has taken over her heart. Her and her family were fortunate. They had a lot of support and resources as they went through this journey. She is also well aware that this is not the circumstance for every family when their child sustains a traumatic injury. Jenny and her family want to give back. Ideally they would love to create a transportation oriented emergency fund, to be given out to other families in the need of medical transport at critical times. This is the big picture goal and will take a lot of time and resources. In the meantime, Jenny talked to The Children’s Hospital about what they could use help with on a smaller scale. On their wish list? A comfort bag for new patients. If Jenny could help with the funding they would proudly display Maddi’s name on the bags. Jenny started immediately with raising money to help the hospital purchase these bags, as well as creating donation drives to fill them. From neighborhood kid lemonade stands to entire dance school companies, Jenny has worked so very hard over the last year to continue her promise to give back to the hospital that gave so much to Maddi.
Over the past year Jenny has created her own nonprofit company that works directly with The Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania to donate funds and filler items to Maddi’s Bag. To date she has raised over $10,000. Jenny is one of my college roommates and dearest friends. I always knew she would do big things because she is such an incredible person. I am in absolutely awe of her grace, strength and dedication. She was determined to help and followed through immediately. One of the coolest things she is doing as a mom is showing her girls not just through words, but through actions, what it means to give back.
How you can help…
Next Thursday, November 5th, please join me at the Raimondo family home for a truly unique shopping experience. A $5 donation at the door gives you access to 23 different vendors. Please use this opportunity to do some early holiday shopping, with products for everyone on your list and nearly every age, you do not want to miss out. You don’t have to worry about knowing anyone, as everyone there is all there for the same reason. They want to help. The money raised at the Shop 4 CHOP event will go directly to the Maddi’s Bag fund at The Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania.
Thursday, November 5th, 2015
2nd Annual Shop 4 CHOP multi-vendor
62 L’Enfant Court, Glen Mills, PA
9am – 2pm & 5pm – 9pm
$5 entry fee
Come shop the 20+ vendors participating.
There will be vendor raffles as well as amazing raffles from various local businesses & restaurants.
Sample delicious treats and drinks while enjoying great company and supporting MADDI’S BAG, a pediatric trauma comfort bag program.
Bring a friend, kids are welcome!
Together let’s celebrate survival, strength & gratitude!!
I will be there and I will have a drawing for a free hour of personal styling. You can enter by purchasing a raffle ticket at the event. There are several additional baskets with donations from many fabulous local vendors and restaurants. The Kennett Square themed basket is my favorite (obviously!) as it is packed with goodies from Philter, Houpette, No. 109 Shop, Chantilly Blue and Ashley Austin.
Additional details for this event can be found on the following links:
*Insider Tip – Shop for a cause.
Even if you dread shopping the holidays make it pretty hard to avoid having to do so. If you are going to be spending money please choose wisely where you make your purchases. I urge you to shop small and to shop local. These businesses put money back into our communities and into our small towns while supporting our friends and our neighbors. We need them and they need us.