“Donate blood,” is what the nine-year-old said when asked if she had something to say.
The lively fourth-grader was not complaining or asking for sympathy. Instead, she was giving a strong message.
Grace Hart was chosen as the 2013 Champion Child for the Janeway Children’s Hospital Foundation.
She and her mother, Terri-Lynn Hart, shared their story with Grace’s Grade 4 classmates and guests Thursday at the Mount Pearl Walmart — sponsor of the Walmart Walk for Miracles, a fundraiser for the Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre in St. John’s.
Grace’s classmates paid close attention to their story and marched along with Grace around the store. They held colourful balloons and, with a smile in their faces, showed support for Grace and the thousands of other kids who go through similar struggles every year.
Grace had her first blood transfusion when she was three weeks old.
When Grace was six months old, she was diagnosed with Diamond-Black fan anemia, a condition where the body does not produce enough red blood cells.
Grace has to go to the hospital every three weeks to get a blood transfusion. She will need to do that for the rest of her life.
“My dream for her future is that she has a future,” said her mom.
According to Grace’s mom, even though Grace sometimes lacks focus and concentration because of her condition, she has a full life.
“She loves Irish dancing, playing with her friends, going to the park and riding bikes,” said her mom. “Our biggest thing is to remain positive about everything.”
Grace said she has “a lot of fun” at the Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre. She said she gets to do arts and crafts and that she gets along well with all the nurses and other kids.
“Don’t be scared to go to the Janeway,” Grace said with confidence.
According to Jenine Kerrivan, the Janeway’s manager of major gifts, 120,000 children go through the children’s hospital every year.
The event Thursday at Walmart was a kickoff for the Walk for Miracles, presented by Walmart. Walk for Miracles raised more than $40,000 last year, said Kerrivan.This year, the event will take place at Quidi Vidi Lake in St. John’s on June 9.
All the money raised will go towards supporting education, research and equipment at the Janeway, said Kerrivan.