Dear Mark & Christmas Wish Listeners,
Imagine a smiling, playful three-year-old boy dressed head to toe in Paw Patrol pajamas and slippers running around our hospital with his IV pole following right behind him. That is Reeko. Spending time with him- is always a highlight of my day as his child life specialist! No matter what, we always seem to have fun on our different adventures within the hospital. While Reeko may play and laugh like a typical three-year-old boy, his story looks a bit different. This past August, Reeko was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of leukemia called AML. This means that for the last four months, Reeko has essentially been living in our hospital with little to no breaks between month-long stays. It means chemotherapy, surgery, and dressing changes. It means being watched very closely as he is often severely immunocompromised due to the aggressive chemotherapy necessary to fight AML and prepare him for the next phase of treatment. Reeko is a reason to smile for all of us at the children’s hospital despite his difficult circumstances.
Unfortunately, Reeko and his family are still in the thick of his treatment. By year’s end, Reeko and his mom will head to Atlanta for three months to undergo a stem cell transplant. His mom will remain at his bedside and be unable to work to support his family. I feel at Christmastime, any help will be appreciated in the upcoming months, and gift cards to a grocery or big box store would be of monumental assistance to this family. Gas cards would also be extremely helpful in allowing Reeko’s grandma, brother, and sister to be able to visit him in Atlanta during his three month stay. As for this amazing 3 year old, Reeko is asking for Paw Patrol and PJ Masks toys. Reeko loves the color red and when he grows up, he wants to help people as a firefighter.
Reeko’s mom, Crystal, is a single mom who says that Reeko is “loving, kind, funny, and playful!” She shares, “He has handled his treatment like a rockstar. This was all very hard at first, and it really turned my whole life around.” Reeko’s brother and sister, eight-year-old Jamel and five-year-old Londyn, visit our children’s hospital often and love playing with their little brother. Jamel would love Jurassic Park dinosaur toys and Xbox One video games this Christmas. Londyn would love some Barbies to play with! As for Reeko’s mom, Crystal shares, “all I want is for my child to be cancer free.”
I thank your Christmas Wish listeners in advance for your generous kindness this holiday season. Nobody expects their child to be diagnosed with cancer until they are, and then everything changes. The impacts on this family’s life have been hard to describe. It would mean so much for Reeko and his family to get some necessary help and unforgettable memories before they are separated for the first few months of the New Year.
Katie Bladergroen (blade-er-grown)
Katie (Waser) Bladergroen, MS, CCLS
Certified Child Life Specialist
Pediatric Specialty Unit (PSU) & Hematology/Oncology Clinic
Dwaine & Cynthia Willett Children’s Hospital of Savannah
4700 Waters Avenue
Savannah, Georgia 31404
This year 98.7 The River has partnered withJim 'N Nicks BBQ to make Christmas Wish possible.