Jimmy Fund Clinic Winter Festival brings cheer to pediatric cancer patient before surgery
“This is their magic time,” said Lisa Scherber, director of Patient and Family Programs at Dana-Farber’s Jimmy Fund Clinic.
That magic was everywhere you looked at the 24th annual Jimmy Fund Clinic Winter Festival. For patients and their families, the Festival is an opportunity to take a break from their daily challenges and celebrate the holiday season. The December 6 event, held at the Newton Marriott, welcomed over 800 patients and families to enjoy a day of crafts, games, train rides, and the highly anticipated arrival of Santa Claus and his elves.
For 3-year-old pediatric patient Joey and his family, the party was more than they could have ever expected. His parents, Stephanie and Joseph, wanted to bring their family to the Festival, but given Joey’s scheduled surgery the next day, they had reservations about attending such a large event. However, knowing they would have the love and support of the other Jimmy Fund Clinic families, they decided to stop in.
Upon Santa’s arrival, the family quickly realized they recognized one of the elves—it was Dr. Chris Weldon, who would be performing Joey’s surgery early the next morning.
“When Joey and his sister Autumn went onstage to meet Santa, Dr. Weldon was dancing, laughing and taking pictures with us. He was creating a memory for our family that I will never forget and always be grateful for,” said Stephanie. “He was dressed in a complete elf costume with striped stockings, jiggle bell hat and all! He made a point to find our little Joey right away and we shared some laughs and pictures.”
The family ended up staying for the whole event. Stephanie says along with making fun memories, sharing the afternoon with Dr. Weldon prepared Joey for his procedure the next day.
“When Joey saw Dr. Weldon the next morning, he associated him with the elf he partied with the day before” she said. “What more could a mom ask for as her 3-year-old heads into major surgery— my son being happy to go with the elf into the O.R.!”
Dr. Weldon was not the only familiar face. Many Dana-Farber staff members attended the event, embracing the holiday season fun with patients and families: decorating cookies, making holiday ornaments, and dancing around in festive costume.
“The whole day was filled with laughter and smiles,” said Lisa, who, along with the Pan-Mass Challenge Team ROAR-Reindeers on a Ride, organizes the annual event. “We really try to bring special moments to the kids and families, a chance to take a break and have some holiday cheer and magic– this is their magic time.”
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