A Florida hospital went above and beyond to ensure a young patient’s birthday was celebrated during Hurricane Irma.
Willow Stine’s family learned she had leukemia two days before her third birthday — the same day the storm struck the state, her family said.
“I'm just trying to process all this,” said Willow’s mother, Jennifer Newman, in a statement released by Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.
"My baby's turning 3 and has cancer, and on top of that my 4-year old daughter and husband are an hour and a half away in a hurricane,” she said.
While Willow’s mom stayed with her at the hospital in St. Petersburg, her father and sister were hours away, braving the storm in their Wesley Chapel home.
On top of it all, Willow was going to ring in her third birthday in a hospital — but the staff was determined to make it a celebration.
Kelly Boyd, a child life specialist at the hospital, learned that like many girls her age, Willow loved Frozen. “So we thought it would be fun to go with the theme of Frozen by getting fun toys,” Boyd said.
Staffers at the hospital, including some of the nurses in the Cancer & Blood Disorders Institute, came together to surprise Willow with presents, balloons, party hats and a cake.
“From the moment we found out Willow was going to be celebrating a birthday during an already difficult time, we knew we had to make it special,” said Cassie Schimmoeller, a registered nurse at Johns Hopkins All Children’s. “I was able to decorate the cake, which was so much fun.”
The party was a huge hit with both Willow and her mom.
“The nurses and child life specialists were amazing," Newman said. "They're so wonderful. She got to be a toddler again."