Bringing Joy to Kids | Gilchrist

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Bringing Joy to Kids

When Jason Stephens Jr.’s nurse, Madeline MacKean, learned the 4-year-old loves fire trucks, she knew what she had to do. She made a few calls and before long, a shiny red fire truck stopped by Gilchrist Center Baltimore, where Jason was receiving respite care.

“When we brought him outside he was in shock and total delight,” says Madeline. “He kept repeating, ‘It’s a fire truck!” over and over again.” Jason, who has neuroblastoma, a type of cancer, had the chance to sit in the driver’s seat, play with the lights, honk the horn, and spray the fire hose. He gave the firemen a tour of Gilchrist Center Baltimore, even showing them his playroom. Jason made fire truck noises for the rest of his stay, recalls Madeline.

“It brings so much joy to our team when our focus is on creating normal childhood memories, not just hospice and medicine.”
– Madeline MacKean, Gilchrist nurse

The Gilchrist team works hard to create joy-filled experiences for kids during a respite stay, which provides round-the-clock inpatient care for children while families rest and recharge. Providing special activities lets a child just be a kid for once, instead of worrying about their illness. Staff recently secured indoor trampoline park passes for one child, and are in the midst of finding professional wrestling tickets for another.

The team has collected security blankets from The Linus Project and  slippers from Tavon Mason Loves the Kids Foundation to help bring the children comfort this winter. When a child celebrates a birthday at Gilchrist, they receive a custom birthday cake. Whatever a child dreams up, the Gilchrist Kids team tries their best to make it happen.

“Our kids have the biggest imaginations and they inspire us daily,” says Madeline. “If we can bring joy to their lives, I believe that is success.”

Gilchrist Kids patient Jason Stephens Jr. anxiously awaits the fire truck.
Playing in the Gilchrist Center Baltimore playroom.
Jason sprays the fire hose with members of the Baltimore City Fire Department.

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