Four years ago, Makenna Schwab, 12, and her mother Melissa Schwab began brainstorming ways they could give back to Seattle Children’s Hospital, their home away from home throughout Makenna’s childhood.
“I wanted to give back to the hospital that gave so much to me,” said Makenna. “Because of Seattle Children’s, I can walk and live independently.”
In 2011, Makenna decided to raise money for Seattle Children’s by selling lemonade and cookies. She raised more than $6,700 that first year, but the Schwab family didn’t want to stop there, and a yearly tradition was born.
In 2012, Makenna collected 650 new toys for Seattle Children’s. She wanted to cheer up kids who had to spend the holidays in the hospital. The following year she wanted to do even more. She sold 530 dozen donuts, and collected more than $7,500 for the hospital.
This year, Makenna set her sights even higher. Her goal was to give kids at the hospital something that’s near and dear to her heart – red Radio Flyer wagons.
Riding around the hospital in style
For extended periods of time, Makenna, who has Larsen syndrome, an extremely rare disorder that causes bone dislocations throughout her body, was in the hospital or the Orthopedics and Sports Medicine department, often in casts and immobile. Her parents would pull her around in a Radio Flyer wagon – in between appointments or to Seattle Children’s inpatient playroom. The wagon was her stylish ride through the halls of the hospital.
“The wagons are a really good memory for me,” said Makenna. “They were less scary than a wheelchair.”
Because of those fond memories, Makenna asked local businesses to make a donation to sponsor a wagon for a child at Seattle Children’s. By the end of the challenge, Makenna received enough donations to purchase 33 wagons.
“Friends, family, and the community all came out to support Seattle Children’s” she said. “Salons, assisted living homes, the mayor, Wenatchee High School, and a bunch of local dentists all sponsored wagons. It was so great! We purchased so many that Seattle Children’s had to tell us they had enough. So we moved on to the next items on our list.”
After the completion of the drive, the Schwab family had collected 33 wagons, 36 DVD players, 12 headphones, 5 baby swings, 280 gift cards and more than 1,300 toys and toiletries, among other things.
“I just wanted to say thank you, to everyone who made it possible for me to walk,” said Makenna.
It’s a tradition Makenna doesn’t want to stop any time soon.
“I really want to make it to the donor wall at Seattle Children’s,” said Makenna. “I want to give hope to kids. And I hope that’s what I’m doing each year.”
If you’d like to help patients and families like Makenna, visit our donate page and specify that your gift go to the Emergency Patient Assistance Fund. The fund allows Children’s social workers to help families cover the cost of basic needs like clothing, food and transportation while their child is in the hospital.