Bella & Her Love of Art!
Isabella (Bella) Alexis Simons is a 15 year old diagnosed with hydrocephalus due to craniopharyngioma. Yoli met Bella and her mom Tasha earlier in December at an Art Night sponsored by the Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope (AAFH) at the Ronald McDonald House in Winfield. Bella and her family are from Carmel, IN. Bella enjoys creating art and scrapbooking. She also loves to create pottery and jewelry.
Naturally, with Bella’s love of creating art being an important part of her life, she asked for a professional set of art supplies which the AAFH was more than glad to provide to her. On Christmas Eve, Yoli and I visited Bella at the RMH in Winfield. We got to meet Bella’s dad, Todd, older brother Matthew and of course visit with her mom Tasha. We presented Bella with her gift of the professional art supply kit and are glad that we are able to bring a bit of happiness and hope to Bella and her family. Bella’s family is very supportive of her and we are confident she will return to full health in time. Love and support go out to Bella and her family from the AAFH family.
Alana & Her Love of Music!
Alana Cook is a 13 year old young teen undergoing treatment for a malignant papillary tumor of the penial gland, a brain tumor. We met Alana on Thursday, December 10, 2015 at the Art Night sponsored by the Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope (AAFH) at the Ronald McDonald House in Winfield. Alana is from Columbus, IN. Alana’s interests include basketball, painting, Nascar racing, go-carts and music. She loves to listen and compose music. At the Art Night Yoli spoke to her about the AAFH and our desire to gift her with a music or art themed item. That same night Alana submitted her request for a set of Dr. Dre Beats headphones in blue.
On December 20, 2015 I met Alana and her parents Holly and Alan at the Ronald McDonald House in Winfield. I was honored to deliver the Beats headphones to Alana and it was a pleasure just to see her smile with a spark in her eyes when I handed over the Beats to her! It was great to also meet Alana’s parents who obviously love their daughter deeply and provide her with all the emotional support she needs to get through her ongoing treatments. Alana is a very bright and strong young teen. We are wishing and praying for Alana's full recovery from this disease and she will, with love and support from her family, friends and the AAFH family!
Ella Joy’s Child Size Guitar Gift
We received Ella Joy’s request for a small guitar on December 9th from Ella’s Mom, Anne, who heard about the Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope when they stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Chicago during Ella Joy’s treatment at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s hospital of Chicago. Ella is 6 years old and was diagnosed with Stage 4 non-hodgkin lymphoma cancer (t-cell) back in October 2013. She is currently still on active chemotherapy, and told her parents she wanted to learn how to play a guitar.
When Ella was picking a gift from the RMH toy room, she picked up one of Alyssa’s SAKs! This prompted Ella and her parents’ interest in learning more about AAFH and they went onto the Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope website and Facebook page.
Ella Joy loves to play the piano, sing and dance too! Anne told us Ella Joy has been very brave throughout her chemotherapy, even when she was allergic to one of the chemo drugs and had red bumpy hives all over her body. Ella Joy has been to the ER with fevers many times, and has had numerous blood transfusions, spinal taps, and too many pokes and procedures.
To fulfill Ella Joy’s gift request, we immediately contacted the Instrument Exchange owner, Tom Stading and he provided the right size guitar (¼ size) for Ella Joy. George and Yoli then delivered it to Ella on December 15th at her home in South Elgin, Illinois.
Ella Joy’s dad is the praise band leader of their church, and will be teaching Ella Joy how to play the guitar. Ella Joy also loves to sing praise songs and really wants to learn how to play just like her daddy.
It was a special night for Ella Joy!
Special Surprise of Art for Ashley!
We first learned of Ashley (11 year old) when one of Alyssa’s nurses, Molly, told us she may know of a possible gift recipient being treated at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital. Lisa, Ashley’s Mom, contacted AAFH to inform us that her daughter, Ashley, loved to draw and she would love to receive a professional art kit. Ashley went through stem cell transplant in September and is currently staying at Ronald McDonald House of Chicago (RMHC) while she continues to be treated at the hospital.
About a week ago, a 10 year old girl, Rochelle, told her Mom, Roxanne (a co-worker of Yoli) she wanted to donate her birthday money to the Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope. When Roxanne communicated this to Yoli, it brought many emotions of happiness, joy and comfort to know that children care about other teens and young adults going through cancer treatments. Yoli asked Roxanne if she would like to ask Rochelle if she wanted to present our 8th gift recipient with her professional art kit. The same day, Roxanne told Yoli Rochelle would love to do this.
Arrangements were made with Lisa to visit and surprise Ashley on Wednesday, October 28, 2015. Rochelle surprised Ashley with the professional art gift. The girls had fun drawing and painting using Ashley’s new art supplies. They also enjoyed hot chocolate donated by Gwen Pastryk, Organo Coffee independent distributor. The Moms also had an opportunity to share their daughters' stories while Lisa also got to enjoy Organo coffee with us!
While the girls continued to draw, Yoli took Lisa and Roxanne to the Rooftop of the Ronald McDonald House to show them the bench where Alyssa liked sitting and the memorial brick made in her honor.
It was a special evening for Ashley and for us to be able to give her a bit of joy through her journey of recovery!
Beats to Inspire John!
We presented John Moon, a 17 year old, with his gift request of black and red Beats headphones at our 1st Annual Art Exhibit – La Fiesta de Arte Sunday, October 18, 2015! He went up on stage and said a few words about his love for music and told us his mom took him to piano lessons when he was a little boy. He first learned how to play piano by reading notes. However, at a young age John discovered he learned better by ear and listening to music. During middle school, he learned how to play the violin and drums simply by listening. John also has learned how to play the harp and is learning how to play the guitar on his own. He asked for the Beats not because of their popularity, but because the quality of the sound he gets when a song is playing through his Beats. John hopes to continue to learn how to play other instruments.
We first met John at Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope’s (AAFH) Art Night held at Ronald McDonald House in Winfield ten days earlier on October 8, 2015. He participated in the Pumpkin Painting and met the Geneva High School (GHS) National Art Honor Society (NAHS) volunteers who were around his age, 16 & 17 year old boys and girls. Some of the GHS NAHS volunteers had the opportunity to get to know John. John will be completing his radiation therapy at the Proton Center in Warrenville, IL on November 9th just before the upcoming holiday season.
At the AAFH Art Night, John felt comfortable talking to the GHS NAHS volunteers about what he enjoyed doing, how he was looking forward to returning back to St. Joseph, MI and play indoor soccer with his friends. John said, “one of my friends has asked me to play in a band and I am excited to go back home and join their band”. At least for one night, the AAFH Art Night, John was able to talk, laugh and smile with the teen volunteers as his peers!
Juan & His Blue Beats
Juan is a 16-year old boy diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) who expressed interest in receiving a set of Beats by Dr. Dre Solo2 headphones from AAFH. Juan was diagnosed at the age of 14 when he was a freshman in high school. Freshman year was very difficult because he was dealing with nausea, tiredness, and not feeling well, in addition to weekly visits to the hospital, so he did not get involved in any extracurricular activities.
Thankfully, Juan started feeling better and last year he tried wrestling-- and has fallen in love with it. His mom, Juanita, was worried at first, but the doctor said Juan was cleared to participate as long as he was feeling up to it. Juanita said, “He's a fighter and even though he lost almost every match he kept at it until he finally won.” Juanita also shared with us that Juan was very happy and proud of himself for that win and she was too. Although he has a heavy burden he does his best to stay optimistic and have a positive attitude, and Juanita is very proud of him for that.
Sunday, October 11,2015 we met Juan and we presented him with his Blue Beats!
His sister, Alyssa ,who is 20 years old donated her saxophone because she is no longer using it. We want to thank Alyssa for her donated instrument!
Erin & her new Keyboard
Erin is a 17 year old girl from Ft. Wayne, IN who likes to sing and wants to learn to play her new keyboard. We met Erin on Music Night, an Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope (AAFH) sponsored event held at the Ronald McDonald House (RMH) in Winfield on September 17th. Erin is staying at RMH-Winfield until she completes her treatment at the Proton Center on October 21st.
Erin found out she had stage 3 Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) cancer on July 30th 2015. It hasn’t been easy for Erin since her diagnosis. She is currently undergoing chemotherapy and proton radiation at the Proton Center in Warrenville.
On Sunday, October 4th, we decided to surprise Erin by going to visit her at the hospital to deliver her new keyboard. Erin was happy to see us and immediately began playing the keyboard with a bright smile on her face! We were privileged to honor Erin’s Gift Request and glad to have brought joy into her life!
Manuel Receives a Keyboard
“Manuel is an 11 year old boy with a compassionate heart”, said his mother, Guille. This past June, Manuel started experiencing severe headaches that would not go away. He was seen by his pediatrician who gave him some medication and sent him home. However, the severe headaches continued and Manuel told his Mom he was not feeling well and seeing flashes of light.
Manuel was taken to the ER at a hospital in his hometown of Indianapolis. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor and fortunately at the time it was quickly removed. Manuel has been going through radiation therapy at the Proton Center in Warrenville, IL.
Manuel came to Music Night hosted by the Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope at RMH in Winfield on Thursday, September 17th. Manuel really enjoyed playing the keyboard that night and when he found out that AAFH honors young patient gift requests, he asked Mom if she could complete the gift request for a keyboard of his own.
That night, Yoli showed Guille the Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope website and she immediately completed and submitted the gift request for Manuel. The new keyboard was ordered and it arrived just in time before Manuel completed his last radiation therapy and returned back to Indianapolis, IN.
At the RMH Winfield on Friday, September 25, Yoli met with several members of Manuel’s family, his Mom, brother Omar, Grandma Cecilia and his aunt Patricia. She surprised Manuel with his new keyboard! Manuel’s big smile produced big smiles on all of us and he said, I can’t wait to learn how to play the keyboard. Manuel expressed a desire to play the piano and keyboard since he was 4 years old. Yoli shared with Manuel’s family that Alyssa was 4 years old when she started taking piano lessons. Manuel was very appreciative and thanked the Alyssa Foundation for the work we are doing to bring joy to other young people going through medical treatments. Yoli ended her visit with Manuel by giving him a hug.