When I first heard about Chelsea’s Closet in 2009, I knew immediately that I wanted to be a part of it. I volunteered at the first Masquerade Ball fundraiser in 2010 and held a costume drive at my school the following year. Soon after, I volunteered at the hospital for the first time – and I knew this was something special.
I had little experience with childhood cancer at the time and was a bit nervous when I first arrived. My nerves were immediately put to rest once these happy, excited kids came out of their rooms to get a costume. Sure some were bald, attached to IV poles or getting chemotherapy. There were wheelchairs and crutches due to amputations. Some carried tubs in case they got sick and some were too sick to come out (but would watch from their rooms). Others stopped by in between physical therapy and clinic appointments. But all I saw were kids being kids. Kids who had been cooped up too long and just wanted to have some fun! Chelsea’s Closet is able to provide that to these kids and I now know firsthand how beneficial this program is. You can see it in their eyes and in their parents’ eyes. It’s these rare moments when everyone gets to relax and breathe because they see that spark in their child again. Who doesn’t want to be a cupcake while getting chemo? Why not walk around the hospital as a princess or a superhero? My favorite was a high school boy who wanted to be a hotdog! (yep, even older kids enjoy the closet!)
I never knew Chelsea, but through the foundation I have been able to witness the beautiful legacy she created. Little did she know what her tea parties and dress up days with her cousins would inspire and how she would help so many other children. Because of her, sick kids at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel are able to experience some fun during the worst time in their lives.
After 4 years of costumes drives and volunteering, I am grateful to be transitioning to a role on the Board of this Foundation and help spread the word about how the Chelsea Hicks Foundation is making the lives of children better one costume at a time. Please consider donating time, holding a costume drive, coming to the Masquerade Ball, following us on social media, or donating costumes or funds to the Chelsea Hicks Foundation so children can continue to be kids, in spite of what they may be going through.
3rd grade teacher, Edy Ridge Elementary School