Children With Life-Threatening Illnesses Given A "Christmas to Remember"
A charity called Jamie's Dream Team hosts a raucous Christmas party to help ease the burden of families with sick children.
It's not quite Christmas Eve yet, so Santa Claus can be forgiven for taking a bit of a break before his big night.
Honestly, though, there wasn't really much for him to do on this chilly Saturday in Pittsburgh. Hundreds of presents were already taken care of - not by Santa, but by Jamie's Dream Team , a nonprofit that aims to ease the burden caused by serious illness, injury, disability or trauma. This particular event was called "Christmas to Remember." Over 100 families filled a brightly decorated airplane hanger at the Allegheny County Airport (a few miles south of Pittsburgh). The event had arts and crafts, a mini train ride, and plenty of food, all to help families with children facing life-threatening illnesses.
Santa did, indeed, stop by (probably relieved that he didn't have to bring the gifts this time). I was under the impression that he usually traveled via miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer, but this time he made his entrance with a little more...pizzazz. Check out Santa's arrival and the rest of the Christmas to Remember event here:
Jamie's Dream Team was founded by Jamie Holmes-Ward in 2005, when she was just 18 years old. Jamie herself was born with a rare condition called V.A.T.E.R. Syndrome, which causes abnormalities in the vertebrae, lower intestine, trachea, esophagus, and kidneys. She was inspired by the kindness showed by her family and friends, whose visits and gifts during her frequent hospitalizations made her battle much more bearable. "I remember wanting to share this feeling of joy with the other kids at Children's Hospital that I would meet." says Jamie.
A young girl waits at the window to see Santa's arrival
The families who participate in Christmas to Remember give Jamie and her team a wish list of 10 gifts, which Jamie and her team purchase and give to the families at the event. The gifts are unwrapped and the families are given wrapping paper so that they can add their personal touch before giving the gifts on Christmas Day. At this year's event, they were able to fulfill every single gift request, making sure the families can focus on the most important thing: their child's health.
"[These families] want to make their kids get healthy... they don't want to worry about Christmas presents and gifts" - Jamie Holmes-Ward
In addition to Christmas to Remember, Jamie's Dream Team also hosts a private, chartered flight to Disney World for children with severe autism called "Ryan's Flight." Their main, ongoing event, however, is granting Dreams to people (of all ages) who are dealing with severe health issues.
If you would like to help Jamie keep the dream alive, you can donate to Jamie's Dream Team here