A 12-year-old who's battling cancer wanted to bring cheer to other hospital patients so she used her birthday as an opportunity to give back.
Emma Becker, a middle school student, knows first-hand that hospitals can be chilly so rather than receive gifts on her 12th birthday in August, she asked the community to donate socks for hospital patients to wear.
Emma was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis, which causes tumors to grow on her nerve-endings, when she was 8. She’s had to undergo chemotherapy.
“I think the initial shock was I couldn’t believe it was happening to our family. You don’t think of childhood cancer until it’s part of your life. I didn’t want it to control our lives,” Emma’s mom, Rebecca Donkor, told InsideEdition.com. “I figured if we turned it into a positive and gave her the opportunity to make a difference, it would boost her morale.”
So Donkor presented ideas to help Emma give back instead of focusing on the hand she’d been dealt.
Emma has donated 12,000 containers of Play-Doh and hundreds of iTunes gift cards to her home hospital, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
Recently, she took to Facebook and to ask for 1,200 pairs of silly socks to give to patients in leiu of birthday gifts.
Little did she know, she’d double that goal.
“When she’s admitted to the hospital it’s always cold in the room to prevent germs. If you ask for a pair of socks from the hospital, they are big and bulky and not pretty,” Rebecca Donkor said. “So she figured socks would bring conversations and smiles.”
Her mom said the responses to the post started pouring in and the family received donations from all over the United States.
In total, Emma collected more than 2,300 pairs of socks, which ranged from furry socks, to socks with minions on them.
She donated the socks to the children’s medical center and Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital.
“When she made her goal, I wasn’t sure she would hit it. So when she exceeded it, I thought it was awesome,” Donkor said. “It was awesome knowing a 12-year-old could make a difference and knowing so many people were willing to help.”
Emma said she hopes to continue spreading joy, one smile at a time.
“No matter how old or young you are, you can make a difference in the world,” Emma said.