Pediatric cancer, sickle cell patients celebrate early Thanksgiving together

Joy filled the room Nov. 23 as more than 300 current and former pediatric cancer and sickle cell patients and their families came together for festive activities and delicious food at the Children’s Hospital University of Illinois.

“This is a great opportunity for all of us to be together and truly be grateful for what we have and the season and just the day. It’s beautiful,” said Dr. Mary Lou Schmidt, professor of pediatrics and chief of pediatric hematology and oncology.

The Thanksgiving feast including turkey, green bean casserole and other holiday staples. Families took black-and-white photos and participated in crafts and activities — including painting dollhouses and decorating donuts — provided by 15 different community and cancer support groups.

The Joffrey Ballet School performed and invited participants up to learn a dance alongside their teen dance team.

Children also took home a donated toy from a gift cottage that was decorated and managed by the College of Nursing students. College of Medicine students helped set up and take down the event.

“It is basically all done by donation; this is our gift for them,” Dr. Schmidt said.

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