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Friday, December 02, 2011

Keep Holiday Cheer All Year at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

Lisa Kinsel, Manager, Volunteer Services, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) at Scottish Rite has found her true calling. She is the perfect person to organize nearly 350 volunteers and provide pet therapy at CHOA - Scottish Rite. Children's offers pet therapy programs to help ease patients' anxiety and promote shorter recovery times.

As a Mom-to-Mom Blogger for Children's, I had the opportunity on Monday to walk around with Lisa and her furry companion, Casper. Everywhere that Casper turned a young, gentle smile greeted him. Casper's business card (with his glossy photo on the front), reads that his favorite foods are, "Dog Biscuits, Easy Cheese," and his favorite sports are, "Rolling in the grass, playing ball, and napping." Lisa stated, "Casper was made for this job. When he's with his patient and has his pack on, he knows he's working."

We headed upstairs to the Aflac Cancer Center & Blood Disorders Services Center. There we met an intelligent young man, Creed. He was sitting on a blue leather chair, watching an action packed movie, and perked up when he heard Casper's footsteps.

Creed, will be 7 years old this month, and has been in and out of the hospital nearly his entire young life. Jokingly, he said that his new age will be "007," referring to one of his favorite movie characters, James Bond. When Creed was 5 years old he was diagnosed with Monosomy7 / Myelodysplasia. According to Medscape, "Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) in childhood encompasses a diverse group of bone marrow disorders that share a common clonal defect of stem cells and that result in ineffective hematopoiesis with dysplastic changes in the marrow."

Creed's Mom, Stephanie was present during our visit and talked about his current condition and shared with us their blog, "Creed's Story," at Creed was being examined by doctors and nurses during our visit, but throughout the pokes and questions he remained very talkative, humorous, and optimistic.

He was eager to tell us that through the Make a Wish Foundation, he and his family will be visiting Disney this month to celebrate his birthday! I'm sure he wishes Casper could go with them on the trip, but I'm sure he'll bring his long-time furry friend some Mickey Mouse ears.

Spending time alongside a Children’s Facility dog was not only rewarding but eyeopening. Their service dogs – Casper, Bella and Sally – provide meaningful experiences for patients, families and staff. I saw first-hand the smiles and differences they make.

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has more than 1,280 kids in our hospitals during the holidays, and each of them could use a little cheer. We’re collecting messages from the community to share with our patients during the last weeks of the year. Take a moment to let a sick child know you’re thinking of them. Plus, Verizon Foundation is matching every view of our “Share” video with a $1 donation. Visit to watch and share your message today.


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