In November of 2020, I answered the phone at our WDC office and was greeted by Amanda Enloe who was looking to make a donation in honor of Kylie Christine Schwartz. What started out as a seemingly typical donation quickly turned into so much more.
Amanda shared with me that Kylie was diagnosed with a rare pediatric cancer during her senior year of college. During her 8 months of treatment, Kylie had one day that completely changed her outlook. Kylie’s mom shared, “One day in the hospital, Kylie was coming back from a wheelchair ride with her dad when she spotted a little girl on her floor. Kylie, feeling miserable and anxious to get back in bed, looked up at this little girl. She too was in a wheelchair. The little girl smiled at Kylie. A big and bright, happy smile. That night, all Kylie could think about was that little girl in the wheelchair, bald from chemo just like her...Smiling at her. She thought to herself if that little girl can smile, so can I. I can do this!”
During Kylie’s treatment, she expressed her desire to give back, and give back she did! Kylie’s first goal was to raise enough money for a therapy dog for the children’s hospital so the kids there could find comfort while in the hospital. Through Kylie’s efforts and the ripple effect that her actions had in the community, hundreds of children and their families have experienced bright spots while dealing with their cancer diagnosis.
After hearing Kylie’s amazing story, I was so honored to partner with Amanda to honor Kylie’s legacy. Kylie loved animals and people and Amanda wanted to share that love. Amanda thought that WDC’s whale adoptions would bring moments of delight to the children and families at the Rocky Mountain Hospital For Children and to the children in hospice.
After shipping off 100 whale adoptions and stuffed whales, I was anxious for them to arrive at the hospital. My anxiety was replaced with pure joy when they sent pictures of hospital staff giving whale adoptions and stuffed whales to the kids. Even with masks on, you can still see their big smiles! Seeing whales bring so much happiness to these kids warmed my whole heart.
I wanted to share this story with you because Kylie, Amanda, and so many other individuals involved in this project have inspired me. Bringing a smile to someone may not solve their problems, but doing so can make the day (or week, or month) a little brighter. The little girl who smiled at Kylie had no way of knowing what a difference her smile would make, but she smiled anyway.
Thank you, Amanda, for reaching out to us. Thank you, Amgen Oncology, for matching this gift. Thank you to Kylie Christine Schwartz for serving as inspiration for so many. You all truly make a whale of a difference. WDC is incredibly honored to play a part in carrying on Kylie’s legacy.