Sioux Falls, SD
The Children's Miracle Network does a lot to help families through the toughest times in their lives. But now families who have been helped by the organization are stepping up to give back to others.
"You just get told the worst news of your life, your daughter, there's nothing more they can do for her and the first thing she does when she sees you walk into the post op room is she starts smiling," said Jordyn's mom, Jodie Olsen in 2008.
Jordyn Olsen battled two different types of cancer in her short life. So she spent a lot of time in the oncology clinic at Sanford Children's Hospital.
One thing that helped pass the time were iPads provided by the hospital.
"Jordyn really loved playing on the iPads when she came here. It was really a fun thing for her to do. And they only have a couple available, so if she didn't get to use them she got kind of upset," Olsen said.
"When we accessed her ports, when the nurses did, we would often have the iPads next to her and she would be able to take her mind off of what's happening with those port accesses and be able to be transformed into focusing on something else," Sanford Health Certified Child Life Specialist Wendy Jensen said.
Jordyn lost her battle with cancer on March 20. A fund had already been started for Jordyn, so her family decided to use that money to help others.
That's when they decided to start raising money to buy more iPads for the oncology clinic.
"It's been amazing. We were able to double the amount of the amount that was on the original fundraiser in a matter of days," Olsen said.
One little girl who is already loving the iPads from "Jordyn's Joy Bags" is two-year-old Reese Whitney. She's battling a rare form of brain cancer, and like Jordyn, spends a lot of time getting tested.
"It's just easy for them if they're focusing on it to get really upset about it and maybe try to resist it. Where as if their Child Life Wendy comes in and she has the iPad over here and then Reese just focuses on playing that game and isn't even worried about what's going on with her port." said Marilyn Whitney, Reese's mom.
Both the Olsen's and Whitney's have also benefited from the services of the Children's Miracle Network, and are grateful for the necessities provided, like food and housing.
Reese's mom Marilyn, says the help has been huge while traveling to Memphis for treatment.
"They've been great. I mean not only do they offer support and try to get you involved with other families in the community going through the same thing, but they've also helped us financially to help pay for our travel expenses back and forth to St. Jude," Whitney said.
Whitney says what the Olsen family is doing to make time in the oncology wing easier is really admirable.
"Now we come here and there's a little piece of Jordyn with us. So it's wonderful to see that. We hope someday that whether Reese is with us or not, we hope to be able to give back too," said Whitney.
"That the family wants to give back to other families, just shows what a stellar family they are and how they appreciated our work that we did here," Jensen said.
Olsen says she's just happy to help others through their tough times.
"It's hard to describe. I don't know if it sounds weird, but it makes me smile inside and out to know that these kids get this. Because this is such a hard time for them and their parents. And when the kids smile the parents feel so much better," Olsen said.
Olsen believes Jordyn would be very proud of the efforts her family and community have put in towards honoring her life.
"She would love it. I know she's smiling. Yeah, she loved to smile and she loved nothing more than to have other kids smile, so we'll keep doing this," Olsen said.
Olsen says they will continue to raise money to make more donations in the future.
You can make a donation at the Jordyn's Joy Bags.
Eye on KELOLAND