Happy 1st birthday Penelope!
Out in Ohio, Penelope celebrated her first birthday and Casey Cares' 822nd birthday in 2022!
Casey Cares knows that for a critically ill child, each birthday is a special milestone celebrating life. For the children in our programs, it not only marks another year, but it also demonstrates a great achievement. Every year, Casey Cares staff and volunteers work hard to send out each of our kids a special birthday package through our Birthday Blast program - there's over 1,000 that we send! This simple act of kindness delivers joy and hope to our kids who are undergoing treatment.
Penelope + Family
With Penelope being diagnosed with a serious respiratory disease, she joined Casey Cares in 2022. Thanks to Casey Cares and their generous donors and sponsors, her family loved going to a Philadelphia vs. Cleveland Browns preseason game, visiting the Garden Bros Toledo Circus, and seeing the dinos at Jurassic World in Cleveland.
Katherine, her mother, says "My favorite part about Casey Cares is how you make the siblings feel included in everything! With Penelope being in the hospital, it’s awesome that Casey Cares made Wesley, her 3-year-old brother, feel special through this whole journey."
The fun has not stopped there! Out of all the activities the family has done, Katherine states that "Our favorite thing we’ve gotten was the movie night care box. It came with popcorn, a movie theater popcorn bucket which Wesley loves, a bunch of candy, a gift cards for a movie and pajamas, and an awesome Casey Cares cooler bag! We just loved being able to enjoy a family night at home since I was always on the go between work and going to the hospital to spend time with Penelope."
One Year - Celebration and Challenges
Katherine acknowledges, "Penelope’s diagnosis has been hard from the beginning because for the longest time only me and her father were allowed to see her because of COVID. So, for months no grandparents or aunts or uncles could see her and that was really hard on all of our family not even being able to see her in person at all until she was almost 5 months old. I wasn’t even able to hold her for the very first time until she was over a month old which was really hard for me."
She continues, "For a while in the beginning it was really touch and go with her, we didn’t know if she was going to make it because she got sick multiple times and it really took a toll on her. That was really scaring watching her go through that."
Without a doubt, Penelope has overcome many obstacles.
The doctors "thought she was going to have to have surgery on her heart because of her PDA but it got smaller on its own. The doctors they thought she was going to have to get a tracheostomy and she ended up getting pulmonary hypertension. It got really bad so when they went in to do the tracheostomy - they found a huge granuloma blocking her airway, so they removed it and decided to hold off on the tracheostomy to see if that was a major factor in them not being able to wean down on her liters of oxygen," Katherine adds.
"After a few months she started doing a lot better and tolerated them," she concludes. Katherine was excited to tell us that after spending 348 days in the hospital, Penelope was able to make it home for her first birthday!
You can support critically ill children like Penelope this holiday season, click here.