ST. LOUIS — Think of your kids. Think about how much you love to see them smile and hear them laugh.
One little girl and her family are bringing that kind of happiness to families whose kids are fighting life-threatening illnesses at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
Four-year-old Gwendolyn Kramer’s birthday is September 23. Thursday morning, she celebrated her special day for the second time this year. And both times, she's been the one who brought presents to the party.
“We did these as a collection for her birthday. We had friends and family donate,” said Gwendolyn’s mom, Erin as she held an armful of gift bags. “We had a goal of making ten of them and we ended up making 65. And then a couple extra donations came in. And so, September Smiles has carried into October.”
Each bag is stuffed with goodies.
“Inside we have a small gift bag with a $50 gift card. And every bag has a box with a superhero cape. These are actually from a local St. Louis group called Tiny Superheroes.”
And on each bag, a message of hope:
Sometimes real superheroes live in the hearts of small children fighting big battles. From one superhero to another, you are not fighting alone. Love, Team Gwendolyn.
Gwendolyn and her family know all about big battles.
“When she was about five months old they did a brain MRI and found a bunch of brain abnormalities. It’s a progressive neurological condition that’s still undiagnosed” said Erin.
Her illness is terminal, making every birthday Gwendolyn has left extra special.
“We thought spreading smiles was a great way to celebrate a birthday,” said Erin.
“I can't tell you what a lift it is,” said Dr. Joan Rosenbaum, a Washington University Pediatric Advanced Care Team physician at St. Louis Children's Hospital. “The kids in the hospital that we take care of are going through some really rough stuff.”
The Kramer's have spent a lot of time at Children's Hospital.
“It's a great place. But it's one of those places where you realize that somebody might have it a little worse,” said Gwendolyn’s dad, Mark.
So, Gwendolyn and her family will come back every year with gifts in hand.
“I would love to say we'll do 100 bags next year,” said Erin. “But, honestly our goal this year was to spread some love, spread some hope, spread some joy at a really challenging time.”