We would like to nominate our dear friend Louise Hunter as a SoaringHeroine. Louise is our home care and hospice nurse who has cared for our most precious little people and their families during what is undoubtedly the most difficult time of their lives, and the most unimaginable for the rest of us. As pediatric oncology caregivers, we often hear people say “I could never do what you do” or “I don’t know how you can handle it”. Louise is the person who says “I‘ll do whatever you need.” Of course our hope and our goal for every child is a cure for their cancer and a long and happy life and fortunately that is exactly the outcome for many, many children. But for those children who don’t get to go to first grade or their prom or learn to drive or ride a bike or fall in love, Louise is the person who inspires them to dream new dreams, to hold on to their faith and their hope and to believe that tomorrow can be a better day. She is the friend who, on a sunny day, takes a five year old to the park, the friend who whispers in the teenager’s ear that she will continue to keep in touch with a family and make sure they have help when they need it, and the confidante and reliever of fears too dark to share with anyone else, for fear of the pain it may cause other loved ones. “Never giving up” means different things to different people throughout a battle with cancer. Louise is a heroine to us because she teaches people that “letting go” does not mean giving up and often is the most courageous act of all. Louise Hunter is a registered nurse for Sacred Heart Home Care and Hospice in Allentown, Pennsylvania. She is nominated by Karen Agrippine RN, Rose Schenk LSW and Annmarie Steber RN at The Pediatric Specialty Center hematology/oncology department in Bethlehem,PA.
Grandma Faye was my heroine. When I was a little girl, she was my favorite person in the world. “I am so proud of you.” She used to say this all the time. Once I learned how to say it in sign language, I used to say it back to her. I always remember my Grandma Faye’s encouragement and positive attitude. Although she was born deaf she never felt sorry for herself. She led a complete and interesting life, traveled to many countries, volunteered to help others, and loved being with her family. Her hands were her lifelines through sign-language she communicated. She also cooked amazing meals and knitted. She was always knitting. I have so many blankets that she made for me and my brother. Grandma Faye won an award for helping others. I remember going to the awards ceremony where she was given a gold pendant with her name engraved on the back. A few years later, when I went to college in another state she gave me the locket. When I played my guitar she would rest her hand on the base of the guitar in order to feel the vibration. She’d smile and fully enjoy our time together. She’d feel the joy by looking in my eyes. Grandma was grateful for what she had and spent time helping others less fortunate than herself. “I LOVE YOU.” When I was fourteen years old I made Grandma Faye a birthday card with the universal sign for “I LOVE YOU” embossed on the card. People loved this card, it had a place of honor on her refrigerator, of course. Many of her friends asked her where they could buy this card. My parents gave me the $200 needed to print the cards and I started my first business, Lisa Card Creations. I sold these cards to gift shops and museum stores and deaf clubs around the country. I would sit at the kitchen table answering letters from customers and filling orders, this was before computers and the Internet were invented. I would place ten cards into a plastic baggie and tie each bag with a blue wool ribbon. Grandma Faye’s legacy inspires me every day because on some basic level, I believe that Soaringwords is all about telling millions of ill children and their families I LOVE YOU and inspiring them to do something kind to help others. Helen Keller said, “The best and most beautiful things in life cannot be seen or even touched they simply must be felt with the heart.”
When a child is ill, siblings, classmates and the entire community is affected. People want to do something positive to show love and support. Often people don’t know what to do or say to help, so they don’t do anything. In between Taylor’s chemotherapy treatments, her entire family — sisters Ryan and Cory and her parents — invited people to come together to do something kind for other hospitalized children. On a bright sunny morning, 200 friends, neighbors and classmates came together for a celebration at the local elementary school. Everyone decorated 200 quilts and pillows to donate to hospitalized children at the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. Taylor and her family were grateful to deliver all of the quilts and pillows to patients in order to “pay it forward” and share the love. After Taylor’s second lung surgery she told her mom, “I feel lucky because if I hadn’t gotten sick I wouldn’t have spent so much time with my cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends. Mostly, I feel lucky because I probably never would have known how many people love me… and care.”
Nominate Soaring Stars! Sometimes the best way to feel great is to share hope or inspiration with other families who are going through a similar experience. We invite you to be a SoaringStar and email us your story which we will share on our website with hundreds of hospitalized children. Or maybe you know of someone else, a boy or a girl who has overcome an obstacle in their lives to inspire others to be strong. By sharing these profiles of SoaringStars with millions of ill children, everyone will be inspired to see how “ordinary people are doing extraordinary things” to make our world a better place. To share your story please answer questions below and email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also include a photo of yourself.
Inspiration for SoaringStars: Paul Steven Miller was my best friend from college and he became my chosen brother. The Torah says “words from the heart, enter the heart.” Everyone who has ever spoken with Paul has been enhanced by this experience. Paul spent his whole career being a champion of disability rights and fighting for equality for people of all races, religions and abilities. Although he was born a dwarf, he never lived small or felt sorry for himself. He enjoyed life in a big way and loved to spend time with his family, his friends, and helping people with disabilities have the same rights as everyone else. He was incredibly smart and he worked harder than anyone else just to prove that he was capable. And he was very capable. Paul Steven Miller worked for three Presidents: President Clinton, President George W. Bush, and President Obama. President Clinton appointed him to become a Commissioner of the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Council). For President Obama he managed appointments in the Department of Justice and positions relating to Disability Programs. What an impact he’s had on thousands of people’s lives.
SoaringStars Questions for Ill/ Special Needs Children:
- What makes you feel strong?
- What makes you feel happy or positive?
- When you are scared or down, how do you make yourself feel better?
- What are your favorite things? Hobbies? Interests? Things to do?
- What advice do you have for other kids in hospitals or those that are at home because of an illness?
- What is your favorite part about you? What would your parents or friends say makes you special?
- Tell us a little about your life. What illness do you have, how long have you been ill?
- Tell us your full name, address, age, and phone number. Please note: we will only include your first name and age in your profile on the website. We need this other information to send you the Soaringwords Youth Leadership Certificate. We are also profiling siblings, parents, caregivers, nurses, doctors, child life specialists, teachers and volunteers.
SoaringStars Questions for Siblings:
- Tell us about your life. What are your favorite things?
- How has having an ill/ special needs brother or sister affected you?
- What have you done to be helpful to your brother and sister? How does this make you feel?
- What advice do you have for other brothers and sisters with an ill/ special needs sibling?
- Tell us your full name, address, age, and phone number. Please note: we will only include your first name and age in your profile on the website. We need this other information to send you the Soaringwords Youth Leadership Certificate.
SoaringStars Questions for Parents of Ill Children/ Special Needs Children
- Describe your child’s illness or special needs.
- Describe his or her personality. What makes them unique.
- What makes you feel strong? Hopeful?
- How do you keep joy in your life?
- How do you maintain a positive attitude or hold onto gratitude? Do you have a motto, song, ritual that helps?
- How do you give yourself time in the midst of caring for your child and other responsibilities you manage that allows you to feel like yourself, even for a few minutes?
- What is the most unexpected thing you’ve discovered during this journey?
- What were or are the blessings or the most surprisingly nicest thing that your child/family experienced during this time?
- What advice do you have for other parents with ill/ special needs children? (List 10 things)
- What did your friends/ family /teachers/ classmates do that was helpful?
- What are the things that well-meaning people should NEVER say to an ill child/ special needs children?
- What are the things that people should NEVER say to parents of an ill child/ special needs children?
- Anything else you’d like to share?
Nominate a Nurse, Doctor, Child Life specialists, Volunteer or Teacher
Has there been a heroic person who has made a positive impact on the life of an ill or special needs child and his or her family? We want to know about these heroes who go “above and beyond” to inspire kids to “Never give up.” Send us a short paragraph explaining why this person is a SoaringStar. Please include their first and last name, their title, the hospital/school where they work/city and state. Please include a phone or email if you can. Send all responses to email@example.com