Ava Holder may have been little, but she was a strong fighter. Doctors diagnosed her with an aggressive form of pediatric cancer, stage 4 neuroblastoma, when she was just a year old.
“She fought for 3.5 years. We traveled all over the U.S. seeking the best care,” Ava’s mother, Chrisie Funari, said.
Doctors then told the couple that their little girl was dying and there was nothing more they could do.
“I didn’t want to be Ava’s nurse around the clock. I just wanted to be by her side when she passed away,” Chrisie said.
The couple was relieved that they had a hospice facility in their hometown of Phoenix dedicated just to children.
“Her death was really peaceful, which is hard to believe when you’re going to lose your child, so we were really thankful for our experience,” Chrisie said.
The pediatric hospice facility was such a blessing that the couple’s aunt and uncle, who live in Sioux Falls, started pushing for Sanford to open up a similar building here.
Wednesday that dream became a reality. Sanford broke ground on Ava’s House, a hospice facility that will serve people of all ages, including children.
“This will be one of only four pediatric hospice facilities in the country,” Micah Averson with Sanford Health Foundation said.
The new facility will have 20 beds with four of them dedicated just to children.
“Rooms will be specially designed with children and young kids in mind, whether that’s from wall colorings and art to play rooms,” Averson said.
A facility that is helping this family heal on the fourth anniversary of their daughter’s death.
“Obviously after losing your child, there’s always somebody missing, but we have no regrets about the care we got for her and the end of her life,” Chrisie said.
“We get to help other families, and we get to ensure that other families have the comfort and their children have the dignity that our daughter Ava had in her passing,” Chrisie’s husband, Nick, said.
Sanford expects Ava’s House to be open in the fall of 2017. So far they’ve raised a little more than half of the money to build the facility.