Starting this week, every child newly diagnosed with cancer at Children’s National Hospital in D.C. will get a free backpack loaded with fun stuff.
The “Smile Packs” come from the nonprofit group Dancing While Cancering.
“It’s all items that help make that hospital room more like a play space,” said Scott Kramer, the group’s co-founder. “There’s a wireless speaker, there’s musical instruments, there’s room decorations like streamers and paper disco balls — all in hopes of being that gentle reminder to kids and families when they’re at that new diagnosis moment that that room is still theirs.”
“And their life, and the way they live their life, whatever that disease is throwing at them, is still within their control,” he said.
Kramer and his wife, Pammy Kramer, live in Chicago, and they founded Dancing While Cancering in memory of their 2½-year-old daughter, Maddie, who passed away in January 2018 from a rare form of cancer.
“When Maddie was diagnosed, she really battled her disease the only way she knew how,” Scott Kramer said. “And that was through the powers of music, imagination, singing and dancing. So when she passed, we made a commitment that her life would be remembered as an inspiration, and that we would help other kids battle cancer the same way that Maddie battled hers.”
Nationwide, Children’s National is the 14th hospital in just 14 months to begin receiving “Smile Packs.”
“We’re just really honored at the opportunity to be able to spread our mission and joy to all these brave special kids at Children’s National,” said Pammy Kramer. “We hope to bring ‘Smile Packs’ to more hospitals in the D.C. area in the future.”
You can donate to the nonprofit online.
Also, if you buy the Kramers’ book, “Maddie’s Miracles,” on Amazon, 100% of the royalties will be donated to Dancing While Cancering and other cancer charities.