MERIDEN, CONNECTICUT (Meriden Record-Journal) - One local woman is giving children a chance to use their imaginations to escape the reality of pediatric cancer.
Since February, Jaime Golanski-Zmijewski has been making capes, masks and tutus to donate to children who are in the hospital battling cancer. The effort is a chapter of a nationwide foundation known as Emmy’s Heart, established to help children undergoing treatment feel strong and beautiful, like superheroes or princesses.
Emmy’s Heart was founded by Laura Burt Pita, a former Connecticut resident who lost her mother to cancer and shortly after learned her son, Josh, had leukemia. Golanski-Zmijewski, of Wallingford, was a classmate of Pita at Mercy High School in Middletown and contacted her when she learned Pita wanted to expand the organization across the country.
“I had some extra time on my hands,” she said. “I wanted to do something to help.”
Golanski-Zmijewski started by herself, spending most of her day sewing and stitching items for the children. But word of Emmy’s Heart CT has spread, and now Golanski-Zmijewski has a stable of volunteers, including her daughter Taylor, and regularly hosts parties where the women get together, socialize and make the items.
“It’s a girls’ night out,” she said. “We have some appetizers, some wine, but we’re doing something good.”
On March 14, Golanski-Zmijewski traveled to the Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital and donated about 20 pieces. The experience is one that she won’t soon forget.
“It was quite overwhelming just going into the unit and seeing these brave little souls trying to fight cancer,” she said. “I was truly humbled by this experience; it made me put things into perspective. I think since then I try to not let the small stuff get to me. I appreciate my family more, hold those close to me a little tighter and just thank God everyday that we all have our health.”
Golanski-Zmijewski said she remembers one boy running down the hallway after he received his cape.
“It was totally worth it, every hour I put in was totally worth it,” she said. “I wanted to put smiles on their faces.”
After the visit, Golanski-Zmijewski made friends with Rebecca Raymond, whose son, Patrick, was undergoing chemotherapy and was only recently found to be cancer free. Raymond has since joined Golanski-Zmijewski during her Emmy’s Heart parties.
Sandra Gabriel-Busa, a friend of Golanski-Zmijewski, has been involved with the group since shortly after it started.
“It appealed to me because it’s something so tangible,” she said. “You’re not just donating money or walking, you’re giving something to a child who is going through something very serious. For that one second, they’re a princess or a superhero; they don’t think about their condition.”
Gabriel-Busa said she also enjoyed the tutu-making parties.
“It’s cheaper than the bar and you’re doing something good at the same time,” she said.
In addition to making capes, masks and tutus for the children, extra items are made and sold to help raise money for materials.
Golanski-Zmijewski’s mother, JoAnn Golanski, said she was happy to see her daughter and granddaughter so involved in such a good cause.
“They’re both very compassionate,” she said. “It makes something special that’s just theirs. It doesn’t have to do with sickness or medicine and it thrills them to no end.”
For more information on Emmy’s Heart CT, visit www.facebook.com/emmysheartct or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2013 Meriden Record-Journal
Updated 438 days ago Article ID# 1539579