Know a family with a child who is hospitalized? Here’s what they really want…

Jennifer and Ryan Wade should know.

When their daughter, Riley, 2, was diagnosed with a rare pediatric cancer, the hospital became a second home. Through surgeries and chemotherapy, the Wades stayed at Cardon Children’s Medical Center 24/7 for days at a time.

They  learned a lot about accepting a tough diagnosis- but not without a fight, and not without giving up hope. They also learned the importance of the little things-  creature comforts for parents who need to stay overnight.

Inspired by Riley’s passion for sharing and giving toys from the toy closet to other children, the Wades started Gifts from Riley, a non-profit that provides blankets, toiletries, air mattresses and toys to families who need to stay in the hospital. The foundation also supports research for the cure of AT/RT cancer.

Know a family disrupted by serious illness? Trying to figure out how to help?

The Wades offer these suggestions.

  • Give them space. It can be overwhelming to field phone calls and visits.
  • BUT don’t ignore them. Stop by to visit and have a face-to-face chat about anything else that is going on besides medical testing and the illness itself.
  • Offer to sit with a hospitalized child so that the parents can take a break to go to dinner or have some quiet time. “We had a big fear of leaving her all by herself,” says Jennifer.
  • Offer to organize one of the websites designed for families who want to updates friends and family. Non-profits like Caring Bridge and Care Pages are great for sharing information but can be overwhelming for parents to manage.
  • Offer to take care of the yard, bring in the paper, get the mail, cook dinner. It’s the little things that help during a time that can be filled with anxiety.

The child gets the pokes and the pain, says Ryan, but mom and dad get the stress. Keeping parents as nurtured as possible helps kids feel safe- and helps the healing process.


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