Giving to Golisano Children's Hospital

"Sandy's Friends" Shows Community's Generosity

Strong Kids Newsletter

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"Sandy's Friends" Shows Community's Generosity/Helps Hospital Thrive

After their daughter, Bridgette, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in February 2009, Mike and Tracey Merriman knew they wanted to give back. They immediately embraced Golisano Children's Hospital and, after Bridgette's successful treatment, joined "Sandy's Friends," an email listserve that shares volunteer opportunities for children's hospital supporters.

Made up of volunteers who have been inspired by the work of the hospital, who may have a personal connection, or who are looking to help in their community, Sandy's Friends helps the children's hospital thrive.

"Our experience showed us how many other families and children are at the hospital and being a part of Sandy's Friends gave us the opportunity to help meet their needs and support them in different ways," Tracey said. "There's not a better way to give your time."

Whether it's by attending community fundraising events, sharing a personal experience, or by spreading the word about different ways others can become involved, there are several ways to show support.

The Merriman family has been an active member of Sandy's Friends for the last five years. The family of six has volunteered at events such as the Stroll for Strong Kids walk/5K, Fairport Music and Food Festival, and Cycle for Hope, among others. In 2013, Tracey volunteered as a member of the Golisano Children's Hospital Gala's planning team. 2010 Miracle Kid Bridgette Merriman, now 16, has also courageously shared her story at the annual Miracle Luncheon and Drive for Miracles Radiothon.

"Sandy's Friends really is all about being a 'friend,' being there to lean on during a difficult process, celebrating milestones together, or even showing your support by simply being present at events," Tracey said. "People that choose to be a part of the events held throughout the year, big or small, are the driving force that keeps the hospital going."

Laurel Chambers became involved with Golisano Children's Hospital through Sandy's Friends two years ago. In January 2012, Chambers great niece, Makayla Perkins, was diagnosed with Pinealoblastoma, a cancerous tumor of the pineal gland. Inspired by Makayla and the care she continues to receive, Laurel enjoys being able to donate her time to help similar sick and injured children. Like the Merrimans, she has volunteered at the Fairport Music and Food Festival, Cycle for Hope, the Stroll for Strong Kids walk/5K, and also with the Garden Factory.

"It makes me feel good inside," Laurel said. "I see these kids, like Makayla, fighting for their lives and they are so inspiring. I wish I could do more, but I know that the more I volunteer the more money will be raised and the more it will help those in the hospital."

If you would like to learn more about Sandy's Friends and how to sign up for volunteer opportunities, visit www.givetokids.urmc.edu/sandysfriends!

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