In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

December 9, 2014

‘Tis the Season for Giving (Back)

By In the Loop
Read time: 2 minutes

Gift bags celebrating the holiday spirit.As she walks through the entrance of the Special Care Nursery at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Amy Richel knows what it’s like to be there. She knows the fear and anxiety parents and families are feeling as they hope for the day their child will be healthy enough to come home. She felt all that and more when her son Gavin, now 6, was born.

“He was born three weeks early, he had the cord wrapped around his neck, and so he just needed some extra help breathing,” Amy tells Eau Claire’s “We were in the Special Care Nursery for about a week.

Because of their experience, Amy and her family decided they wanted to do something to help families going through similar circumstances. So, according to WQOW, they came “rolling in” to the nursery last week with armloads of presents. “We wanted the families to know that there are other people who have been in their situation and that it does get better, and people are thinking of them,” Amy says.

Appropriately dubbed “Gavin’s Gifts,” the Richels’ 40-some gift bags included helpful things like “tissues, hand sanitizer and thermal totes to help transport breast milk.” Amy and her husband purchased the items themselves, and received a little help with the gift bags from their local Lake Hallie, Wisconsin, community. And now, Amy tells the station she and her family hope to do it again. 

In the same spirit, fellow Wisconsinites, the Bruland family, from Viroqua, Wisconsin, recently made a donation to pediatric patients at three Wisconsin hospitals, including Mayo Clinic Health System –Franciscan Healthcare in La Crosse. Along with raising spirits, the family hopes to raise awareness about opsoclonus myoclonus syndrome, or OMS -- the “incredibly rare disease” that their daughter, Chloe, was diagnosed with when she was 18 months old.

The La Crosse Tribune reports that Chloe, now 22, and her dad, Mark, recently donated some of the 225 teddy bears they collected to pediatric patients at Mayo Clinic Health System – Franciscan Healthcare. The paper reports the bears, and other gifts, including “a baby chick, a frog and a pink poodle” were donated via drop boxes throughout the Brulands’ local community and that Chloe put a ribbon on each one, along with a note that explains its mission and a link to the OMSlife website.

The Tribune reports that the Brulands have become “part of an information and support revolution” for others with OMS, and that Chloe herself often spends time “networking” with other OMS patients “via Facebook.”

Those are just a couple examples of folks giving back this holiday season. You can share your own stories of benevolence and other holiday traditions below.

Tags: Community, Franciscan Healthcare, Giving Back, Mayo Clinic Health System, Patient Stories

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