(Jon Caldara) – I have a love/hate relationship with Children’s Hospital.
I have told you about the magic that Children’s Hospital works keeping kids like my son Chance, who deals with Down Syndrome, alive. Thanks to Children’s, the heart surgery he had at three weeks old saved his life. In the nine years that followed Children’s performed another 10–yes, Ten–surgeries on him. And Lord, I couldn’t tell you how many times he’s been there to take tests, bravely give blood samples, having wires tying him down, and getting poked and prodded by people who somehow make it a game for him.
Children’s is, and will be for years, critical to keeping Chance Caldara alive and thriving. I am forever in debt to the dedicated people who invested in Children’s Hospital before my need for the place. And I need them to continue their magic.
But I also despise Children’s Hospital. It was the scene of the most horrific event of my life: watching my little girl suffer in confusion and pain.
Parker was our only child when a ravenous cancer ripped through her tender little body. The CAT scan taken in a Boulder hospital showed a lemon-sized tumor in her tiny little head. Before we could even digest that thought, they strapped her to a gurney, unnecessarily immobilizing her for a horror-filled ambulance ride to Children’s. She was screaming in fright all the way down, and we couldn’t even hold her. But the real ugliness started when we got to the worst place on Earth: the old Children’s Hospital in Denver.
Cramped and uncomfortable in that dilapidated old building, we tried to comfort Parker through the MRI, which showed the cancer had metastasized into her spine. The next day we kissed her before they put her under for the surgery to take a biopsy and install a drainage tube deep into her brain. It was in that God-forsaken waiting room, crowded with strangers, where the surgeon came out to tell us the cancer was incurable.
Later, in a hellish recovery room, I walked in to see my little girl lying there with tubes coming in and out of her, and covered by tangles of wires and cords. It made it nearly impossible to even hold her as she cried. We were assigned to a dark, small room, shared with another sick child and her family, without anywhere for us to sleep except on the floor. It was that hideous place where days later the doctors pulled off the wires, removed the drainage tube, and drilled into her skull, all so we could take her home to die.
She died only days from her first birthday.
I would have given anything to have blown up that awful building in Denver. But it was the wisdom and generosity of donors big and small that did something much better. They created the new, state-of-the-art Children’s Hospital in Aurora and continued to staff with it the most talented and courageous people.
You can see: I love everything about Children’s, it gives my son hope. I hate everything about Children’s, they couldn’t do the completely impossible and save my daughter.
In a weird way, taking my son to Children’s keeps me connected to the daughter I miss. There is some poetry there. It’s odd to say, but comforts me.
My late daughter and my disabled son will never meet in this world. But one of the most beautiful ways to connect these two beautiful children came from a friend and coworker here at Independence. A few years back, Tracy Smith, our gifted graphic artist, rode the “Courage Classic,” a bike ride over the Colorado Rockies to raise money for Children’s Hospital. She named her team, “Team Parker,” after my little girl.
Tracy honored and remembered my lost daughter at the same time raising money for Children’s Hospital so that kids like my son have a fighting chance for a healthy life. Now that is poetry.
Last year “Team Parker” raised over $12,000.00 for Children’s Hospital. I am asking you to help Tracy and her team of Independence Institute employees and friends raise one dollar more this year.
I never could have imagined my children would become so dependent on the Children’s Hospital. And I know it’s not a pleasant thought, but children you love may someday become dependent on it too when you least expect it.
Please, for Parker’s memory, for Chance’s life, would you please invest in this incredible hospital right now? Go to http://www.couragetours.com/2013/tracy_smith to sponsor Tracy or another team member at http://www.couragetours.com/2013/team/parker.