A season for hope: We Care Anthem providing support for local children with serious illnesses
ANTHEM – Sometimes, what a child wants most for Christmas is just to be home for Christmas, instead of in the hospital. For the kids of We Care Anthem, life is all about making the most of every day and focusing on the good.
The We Care kids all are battling serious illnesses, but they aren’t letting being sick keep them down. Currently, We Care Anthem, a local non-profit organization, is providing support for four local children and their families.
Gabe, Jojo, Aidan, and Landon face their illnesses with the backing of the We Care community. To see more of their stories and provide donations or send cards, visit wecareanthem.com.
Gabe is a kind-hearted six-year-old who loves music. He’s living with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, but he keeps smiling even when he’s in pain. Gabe is in physical, speech, and occupational therapy. He requires treatments every few months to relieve the spasticity in his legs as his bones and muscles grow. He’s been under anesthesia 14 times for procedures and had three major surgeries thus far. Gabe can benefit from stem cell therapy and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. These procedures are not covered by insurance.
Jojo loves music, crafts, animals, cooking, and watching cooking shows, and when she grows up she wants to be a “doctor for kids, a mommy, and a chef.” This 10-year-old is fighting brain cancer. She has had major surgery to remove the majority of a tumor, and she’s undergoing multiple rounds of chemotherapy. Jojo has been accepted for a trial program in LA, which will require monthly travel. Jojo’s mom is a single parent, who is working to make ends meet.
Aidan doesn’t let his frequent hospital stays get him down – he’s a spunky 9-year-old who keeps smiling. He’s fighting an unknown gastric motility disorder, atypical cystic fibrosis, hypogammaglobinemia, and chronic pain. In 2014, Aidan was in and out of the hospital. By September 2014, Aidan was admitted to the hospital for extreme vomiting episodes and ended up with a GJ tube for feedings. A clinic in Boston was able to provide Aidan with treatment and new medicines. He still requires extensive medical care and has been hospitalized recently.
Landon is an outgoing 10-year-old who loves Pokémon, Minecraft, dragons, and the Seattle Seahawks. Landon has a motility disorder of his lower colon, IGG primary immune deficiency, CFTR dysfunction, and malabsorption and is monitored by the cystic fibrosis clinic. Landon has been repeatedly hospitalized, and his health issues continue to become more complex. Currently, Landon has been accepted to a specialty clinic in Boston. The expense of travel is tough on Landon and his mom.
Through We Care, these kids and their families receive monetary support, meals, and other donations, as well as cards and get well messages. This support helps cover immense medical bills and ease the families’ stress.
“Monetary donations are the best support,” explained We Care volunteer Holly Matson, who is the “go-to” liaison for the We Care families. “Most of our families travel out of state to receive specialized medical treatment; the travel is not covered by insurance.”
Last October, Aidan traveled with his family to Boston for specialized medical care, and after the trip, his condition greatly improved and he was able to eat solid food and even go swimming for the first time in a year.
Keeping the kids’ spirits up is vital to their health, too. Cards, pictures, and gifts help spread cheer and remind these kiddos that everyone is wishing them well and cheering them on. Mail cards to We Care for distribution: We Care, 3655 West Anthem Way Ste. A-109, PMB280 Anthem, AZ 85086.
“Liking the We Care FB page and acting on “calls for action” is another great way to help,” Matson said. “For instance, Landon and Aidan needed to be pepped up while they were in the hospital, so We Care asked the community to show support with cards, pictures, etc. They received tons of cards from as far as Singapore!”
Gift certificates, meals, gas cards, and other donations are always welcome, too. Businesses can donate services, also; contact We Care to donate, and they can network donations where they’re most needed at that time.
We Care Anthem (also known as We Care in Anthem) has been helping sick children and their families for the past 13 years. The non-profit got its start when the Kilstrom family learned of a little boy in the community who was fighting cancer. The Kilstroms stepped in to help, and We Care Anthem was born.
“It all began in 2002 when Eric and Sara Kilstrom heard about Josh Thompson, a seven-year-old boy suffering from cancer,” Matson said. “With a passion to help, they and friends organized the first annual We Care in Anthem golf tournament and raised $27,000 for Joshua. Today, We Care in Anthem is a 501c3 focused on helping seriously ill children and their families. The Children of We Care have been numerous, from Jeremy Pascua, a young boy with an enlarged heart, to Katie Wagner, a beautiful 16-year-old who inspired a community.”
Matson noted that monetary donations to We Care are tax-deductible. We Care kids benefit from the proceeds of Emma’s Run, held in Anthem every spring. Matson urged residents to sign up for Emma’s run and support the kids of We Care. To offer donations, visit wecareanthem.com and click the donate tab.
Even when they’re struggling with illnesses and facing long hospital stays, these kids show their fighting spirit and keep going. Matson describes the We Care kids as simply “amazing,” with their “huge smiles and incredible grasp of the importance of making the most of each day.”
Donate to the We Care kids via wecareanthem.com. To send cards to the kids to brighten their hospital stays, mail cards to We Care, 3655 West Anthem Way Ste. A-109, PMB280 Anthem, AZ 85086.