Her name was Danielle.
When Faith Hudson was hospitalized in Akron Children’s Hospital four years ago, she met the little girl named Danielle who suffered from cystic fibrosis.
This year, Faith and three friends started a class project at Northwestern High School in West Salem, Wayne County, to raise money to buy laptops to be used by sick children so they can communicate with family and friends. Faith was remembering the little girl who died this year.
On Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, Faith and three students at Northwestern and their teacher Kelly Woodruff gave 19 small laptops to the hospital for patients to use.
“I didn’t know her last name.” 15-year-old Faith said of the girl who still inspires her.
The program is called Skype 4 Life, so that children can Skype on the computer and chat with relatives and friends even when they are confined to a hospital room.
It was in a Principles of Biomedical Sciences class taught by Woodruff that the idea was born.
The students in the 36-year-old teacher’s class were to write a fictional grant application for money from a foundation, do a science project or write a real grant application for funding.
One of the four students, Mikaela Franks, had an experience with Toledo Children’s Hospital several years earlier, so she and the three friends decided to try to raise money for a cause that was deep in Mikaela’s heart.
When she was in the hospital for a benign tumor that was removed from her abdomen, a little girl undergoing chemotherapy and radiation caught her attention.
Because she was in isolation and going through treatment, she could not have visitors.
“We don’t want any other kids to go through what she went through,” being alone and isolated in the hospital, the 15-year-old said.
Once Mikaela, Faith, Becca Leasure, 17, and Cortney Howman, 16, got started, they did apply for grants and were successful.
Since the fall of 2011, the girls have raised $14,300 from a variety of sources, including a $7,500 grant from the Wayne County Community Foundation, $3,000 from the Weltmer Trust and $1,000 from the Wooster Kiwanis.
Students across the Northwestern Local School District raised $2,300 in “penny wars” held at each school and another $500 was raised recently from a benefit concert by the country band Mark Leach and the Blue Collar Valors.
The girls bought 20 laptops and related equipment and turned over 19 on Wednesday. One of the computers was broken and is being replaced and will be brought later.
Stefan Agamanolis, senior director of patient experience at the hospital, described the gift of computers as “an awesome donation … We are very grateful for the generosity of the kids.”
Pam Holtz, the hospital’s director of annual giving, said this was the first time the hospital has been given a donation of computers.
“It really says a lot when children recognize the needs of other children,” she said.
Teacher Woodruff praised the young women behind Skype 4 Life.
“The story and compassion is so heart-warming coming from these young ladies,” she said.
The Wednesday donation is just the beginning of Skype 4 Life, said Cortney.
The group plans to use the remaining $6,000 from their initial fundraising efforts to buy more laptops for the Akron hospital and other children’s facilities and will continue raising money.
The whole idea is to help make a child’s stay at the hospital easier to handle by staying in touch with the ones they love, Cortney said.
“It is going to help them stay connected,” she said. “If you are a teenager, you are going to want to know all the drama that is going on!”
Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.