Tuesdays are 2-year-old Malachi Stohr’s favorite days. Every Tuesday, rain or shine, Whitney Stohr and Malachi bundle up and wave to the garbage men as they empty the garbage bins at the end of the driveway. Malachi and Whitney then take a walk around the neighborhood, following the big green truck along its route. Malachi loves garbage day, and so when Seattle Children’s found out, they got in touch with Waste Management to plan a special surprise.
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“So much of Malachi’s life is scheduled around his medical needs,” Stohr said. “He spends many days in the hospital, in clinics, in therapy. We’re eternally grateful to have that level of care available to us. We are thankful to have such ready access to the services at Seattle Children’s and in our local community. But, at the end of the day, Malachi is just a typical toddler. He loves big trucks and watching the trash bins go up and down, up and down.”
Last Tuesday, adorned in garbage truck pajamas and grasping a green garbage truck toy in his tiny hands, Malachi and his family patiently waited for the garbage men to arrive. Malachi and his family had no idea Waste Management had something truly special planned for their biggest fan.
The truck pulled up to the end of the driveway, as it usually does, but instead of simply taking away the trash, the driver stepped out and placed a special package on the trash bin just for Malachi. They made Malachi an honorary Waste Management worker! He received his very own replica truck, trash bin and Waste Management safety gear. Keeping their distance, Waste Management workers held up a sign. It read, “Hi, Malachi. Tuesdays are our favorite days because of you.”
His mother leaned down and lovingly spoke to Malachi.
“Maybe when you grow up you can be a garbage man,” she said.
A big, beautiful smile blossomed across Malachi’s face.
“Waste Management has a huge heart for all of our customers in Lynnwood and Snohomish County!” said Marcy Manibusan, public sector manager for Waste Management. “We love being part of the community and knowing our customers, whether we’re helping kids learn about recycling or checking in with super special customers like Malachi. We’re grateful for the opportunity to serve our customers and to Seattle Children’s Hospital for enlisting us to deliver a big smile to Malachi.”
Malachi has overcome tremendous hurdles, and the Stohr family hopes people see the bright future he has ahead of him.
“In 20 years, you may have a new truck driver,” Stohr said to the Waste Management crew.
Malachi has spent much of his childhood at Seattle Children’s. Born with spina bifida, Malachi and his family spent more than 380 days at Seattle Children’s receiving lifesaving treatment. His care team is vast, comprised of countless providers, spanning numerous specialties, including cardiology, neurology, endocrinology, neurodevelopment and more. Like many Seattle Children’s patients, Malachi’s healthcare needs are complex and require seamless coordination amongst his many providers.
Today, he still requires expert care, but he no longer calls Seattle Children’s his home. Although he still comes to Seattle Children’s often for clinic appointments, he is thriving outside the walls of the hospital and is enjoying things little boys enjoy, like garbage trucks.
Kids need more than expert care – they also deserve the chance to be a kid, which is why this surprise meant so much. Seattle Children’s is relentlessly fighting for better outcomes for kids like Malachi with complex conditions and is united by a mission to help every child live the healthiest and most fulfilling life possible. This day embodied that relentless pursuit. Malachi is surrounded by a caring community – a community that believes in his boundless potential.
Since day one
Dr. Bill Walker, director of Seattle Children’s Neurodevelopmental Program, has known Malachi since day one. He met him the day he was born, and he looks forward to seeing him grow and thrive.
Walker has been at Seattle Children’s for 19 years. He says he loves his job because he has the opportunity to help patients and families navigate through their complex medical journey at Seattle Children’s. Like a puzzle, he puts the pieces together for families to ensure their care is seamless.
“I’m the one looking at the picture on the front of the box, so that I know what the puzzle looks like as we assemble all the pieces,” Walker said.
When asked what he enjoy most about working at Seattle Children’s, Walker explains it’s about building long-term relationships.
“The children I see don’t get cured,” he said. “We can make them better, but there is no cure. We as a group are very conscious of families being told all the things their kids will never do. We make sure families recognize all the things their child is doing, can do and will do. We believe in hope.”
Malachi’s big surprise
Today, Malachi and his family are celebrating all the things he can do.
“Today, we’re thankful for Waste Management and Seattle Children’s for giving Malachi this special experience and for making us all smile,” Stohr said.
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While treatments for spina bifida and other complex conditions have come a long way, there is so much more opportunity. Seattle Children’s is in relentless pursuit to provide hope, care and cures for all children.
For Walker, he’s excited for more milestones and causes for celebration. He said he’s starting to get high school graduation announcements from children he met on day one.
“It’s the best,” Walker said. “For many of those children, those were kids who were supposedly never going to live to see graduation.”
And now they are. They are defining their futures. Just like Malachi, they can be whoever they believe they can be.
Giving Tuesday is a global generosity movement that unleashes the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and their world. Your support helps patients like Malachi have access to better care and cures when they need it most. Every gift counts when he’s counting on you.