Each cancer diagnosis at Seattle Children’s is paired with a social worker to help navigate housing, FMLA documents, etc. In June, our wonderful social worker emailed me and said an organization reached out to her offering to build a play set for Oliver and Eliza in our back yard! We said we were definitely interested, especially since Oliver is not supposed to be around crowds or public places (like park playgrounds) for a year after transplant!
Roc Solid Foundation emailed me and set up “build day” to be August 9. I did not fully understand what a big coordinated project it was until the day arrived! They told us they would pick us up in the morning with a limo, build the play set in about 4 hours, then bring us back to reveal it!
Volunteers flew in from all over, including California and Virginia. There were local volunteers helping too (including a motorcycle gang called the No Name Riders!). The build was sponsored by Wienerschnitzel so they had representatives fly from Los Angeles! The group showed up at our house around 8:00 a.m. the morning of August 9. A limo picked us up (along with my mom-in-law, sister-in-law, my two sisters, two nieces, and nephew) at 8:30am and took us to breakfast! We ate breakfast, then the kids got to pick out a toy at Walmart, followed by playing at a park for a little bit. Nothing like taking a limo to Walmart!
The whole day was so surreal. It was the BEST DAY EVER for our kids and we hadn’t even gotten home to see the playground yet! At 12:30 they took us home and met us at the front of our house, giving the kids blindfolds. We walked the kids to our back yard where we took off their blindfolds and showed them their new play set as the volunteers cheered!
The kids were excited to see their playground and a little overwhelmed! They warmed up to it quickly and were nonstop playing almost right away. They have spent hours playing on it already and will use it for years and years to come. Wienerschnitzel served a lunch to the volunteers, friends, and neighbors that came to celebrate.
The founder of Roc Solid Foundation, Eric, is a pediatric cancer survivor. He presented us with a framed picture that read: “What Cancer Cannot Do: Eat away peace, corrode faith, destroy confidence, shatter hope, kill friendship, silence courage, reduce eternal life, shut out memories, cripple love, conquer the spirit. Cancer is so limited.” I couldn’t hold it together as Eric said that Oliver and Eliza could grow up like he grew up to make a difference for other people. It was such a special day and a huge bright spot after some really hard times this year.
King 5 News from Seattle did a story on the playground build. I linked the video here. One strange thing is they used a picture of a girl that was NOT Eliza, but they said she was Eliza. The girl in picture they used was completely bald and had a feeding tube…Eliza never had a feeding tube and she also never went completely bald, just lost her long hair. She must not have looked sick enough for their news story, which is so bizarre.
It was so humbling to see a group of complete strangers come together and volunteer their time and effort to give this gift to our family. This past year we have seen some of our scariest, loneliest days of our lives so far; but we have also seen outpourings of love and generosity like this. We have felt love and support beyond anything we ever could have imagined in a situation like this. We have seen answers to prayers and miracles. There are a lot of really, really hard things in this broken world but we also get to see glimpses of grace and we are so incredibly thankful.