May 01, 2015 - 7:27 PM
'IT MADE MY HEART FEEL REALLY HAPPY'
KAMLOOPS - After being diagnosed with leukemia Samantha Donovan made it a priority to smile, laugh and feel love every day she spent at the Ronald McDonald house.
She and her family - which the now five-year-old nicknamed Team Super Everybody - lived there for eight months while she endured brutal bouts of chemotherapy for a kind of cancer only two per cent of people get. Their love and support helped her stay strong.
“It was like living our worst nightmare,” mom Allison Donovan says. “(Yet) she always found a reason to smile and laugh every day no matter how sick she was."
Coupled with her family’s support were the added bits of love she’d receive daily from family, friends and even complete strangers.
“Almost every day there would be a package in the mail for her,” Allison says. “While she was in the hospital she got a lot of mail."
It started out slow, but soon Sam received packages from across the world — as far as Trinidad and Singapore. Each of them carried either a small message or a simple gift, like stickers, toys or gift cards.
For Christmas, she received a package every day in December after a group of families in Kamloops arranged to send gifts to Sam and other kids battling cancer.
After Sam came back home to Kamloops, a friend of hers was diagnosed with leukemia. Allison says that’s when her daughter decided to pay it forward and send him and others packages from ’Smiles from Team Super Everybody.'
“She just wants to make kids smile,” Allison says. “Sam’s words to me were ‘I really liked getting mail. It made my heart feel really happy to see people sending me love.' She just wants to do the same for others.”
Since Sam sent her first smile package in October, she’s added five new patients to her list of pen pals. Allison says Sam always includes a coloured picture, a short note and a gift of some kind for the other kids, usually a small toy or funky socks.
“We have a small stash (of gifts) tucked away,” Allison says. “It’s been quite the endeavour so far."
Allison and her husband Tyler try their best to cover costs for the gifts, but occasionally put a notice for specific items on their Facebook page in the hopes community members can help out.
"If it’s something Sam’s really passionate about we’re more than willing to help with that,” Allison says.
To raise funds for Smiles from Team Super Everybody, Sam plans on hosting a lemonade stand on Sunday, May 3, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. outside of Cooper’s Foods in Westsyde.
-This story was corrected Saturday, May 2 at 12:31 p.m. to change the lemonade sale from Saturday to Sunday.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015