In our first year, one of the most special things was, and continues to be, building our relationship with Mary Bridge and their Hematology/Oncology Clinic. In working with them, we identified an opportunity to serve the kids and families in their community in a very meaningful way. In 2017, we were thrilled to announce that we started a program called Rachel's Hugs which grants wishes designed to enhance the lives of young cancer fighters at Mary Bridge. Every month we work with the Mary Bridge staff to identify the greatest needs of their patients. Whether it is an iPad to help with schoolwork or distracting games, a pet to keep them company, a bedroom makeover to help provide comfort, or an airline ticket for a member of their family to come visit, we do our best to fulfill the greatest and most urgent needs of these kids and their families. We think this is perfect, because it is another way that we can share Rachel’s love and hope with others, and make these cancer fighting kids feel special – just like she wanted. I think we can say, with confidence, that she would be incredibly happy and proud of the work her foundation has accomplished so far, and that the Rachel’s Hugs program in particular would fill her heart.
Watch this page and our social media pages for stories and pictures of kids and young adults who are chosen to receive a Rachel's Hug!
Meet Our Most Recent Hugs Recipients!
Meet Alejandro! Alejandro is 12 years old and was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in June. His application stole our hearts the minute that we read about his detailed request for a dinosaur-themed birthday party so that he could spend time with friends and family in Centralia, his hometown! He had a clear vision for all of the details of his party. The rented party room needed to hold 100 guests, he preferred that we use "Taco Man" Abel Bogarin as the caterer (and helpfully provided his phone number). He requested a 3-story high volcano cake that would erupt and had dinosaurs around it, music and more! We were absolutely thrilled to throw him a party earlier this month complete with the amazing tacos he requested, an incredible huge volcano cake with dinosaurs around it that was graciously donated by Gotti Sweets. carnival games, prizes, music, a fantastic magic show that was generously donated by Sleightly Magic, and even a visit from THREE T-Rexes who posed for photos and put on a special dance for the birthday boy. Our team thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Alejandro, his family and friends in a room filled with laughter, smiles, and love!
Meet Daniel! Seventeen year old Daniel received his diagnosis of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia this past summer. He knew about Rachel’s Hugs from his cousin Dominic, who had received a Hug from us in the past and decided to ask for an iPhone just like Dominic had received. We heard from Mary Bridge staff that every time he talked about the possibility of getting a Rachel’s Hug, he would smile from ear to ear. As soon as we received his application, we purchased a brand new iPhone XR to help provide a fun distraction during his hospital visits and allow him to stay in touch with friends and family. Unfortunately, right before our delivery, Daniel suffered from an adverse effect of his chemo that left him temporarily unable to smile, talk, walk, or even eat and drink on his own. We left his new phone with Jessica, one of the social workers at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital, to deliver at a time that felt appropriate. During one of her visits with him, he was still feeling unwell so she decided to wait, but at the last minute changed her mind. As soon as she pulled the Hug out of her bag, he broke out in a huge smile - the first time since his face paralysis!! He was able to open it himself and even stuck his tongue out at his sister when she pretended to take it away from him. Jessica shared that the room was filled with great joy and laughter after several really hard days! We were so thrilled to hear this and knew Rachel was hard at work bringing smiles, which is exactly what our Hugs program is all about.
Meet Our 2019 Hugs Recipients!
Meet Rene! Rene is 10 years old and was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma this past summer. Rene wrote about all of her family members in her Rachel’s Hugs application and said that her favorite activities are doing crafts, shopping, playing outside, and watching Harry Potter. Her Rachel’s Hugs request was for an Apple Macbook, which she said would help her with her schoolwork since she will be homeschooled this year and would also provide her with lots of entertainment during hospital stays, visits to the clinic and when she is at home in Port Orchard. We were so happy to meet Rene, her mother and grandmother recently at the Mary Bridge Oncology Clinic and to surprise her with her brand new Macbook. Despite the fact that she was feeling a little shy, we still managed to capture her sweet smile and visit for a short while. We know that her Hug will help Rene with her school projects and will bring her lots of joy and smiles as she watches movies, plays games, and explores craft ideas on Pinterest!
Meet Dawsin! Dawsin is 8 years old and has been through so much since he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic T-Cell Leukemia at age five. He is a fun loving, happy kid with lots of smiles, despite having endured three major surgeries, several bad reactions to chemotherapy and multiple hospitalizations (including one that lasted 98 days). His Rachel’s Hugs request was for a shopping spree to buy anything he desired because he couldn’t pick just one thing that would brighten his life the most! We were thrilled to meet Dawsin recently and give him gift certificates to Amazon and Dick's Sporting Goods. We also added in some sweet treats and a remote-controlled car for entertainment at his home in Kent. We were in awe of his skills as he raced the new car around the clinic but it all made sense when we learned that Dawsin is a Junior Dragster racecar driver. The little battery operated remote car was a piece of cake for him! We are sure that Dawsin had fun spending his gift cards (perhaps including that new bat he has been wanting) and hope that his shopping spree brought him lots of joy.
Meet Benjamin! Thirteen-year-old Benjamin likes to play the electric guitar, Xbox, and computer games. He also enjoys researching topics that interest him on the internet and is an honor roll student in Sequim! His Hugs request was for a new computer that would help him with the homeschooling this year that is necessary due to the Lymphoblastic Leukemia diagnosis he received in June. He knew it would also allow him to connect with his friends and provide a great distraction on tough days. Benjamin has long hoped for a new computer to replace the family’s old one that does not have enough memory or speed to be useful. We were very grateful that he provided us with a link for exactly what he was looking for and thrilled to meet him at the Mary Bridge Clinic and provide him with a brand new gaming computer and a curved monitor that will be perfect for hours of fun and of course, school. He was so excited and the long drive back home to Sequim with his new technology must have seemed like it took forever! We love thinking about how much he must have enjoyed setting it up and playing his first games.
Meet Nathan! Seventeen year old Nathan lives in Kent and loves running, sports, lifting weights, and playing the violin - something that brings him joy when nothing else can. Since his recent diagnosis of Lymphoblastic Lymphoma in June, music has become even more important to him. He hopes to continue his study of music and play the violin in college, but needs to upgrade his instrument due to his advancing skills. In his application, Nathan provided us with specific models that would meet his needs and we immediately got to work to see if we could fulfill his request within our budget. From that point, it was a whirlwind of emotions for us as our community rallied together in unbelievable ways! We were stunned when Ted Brown Music, Eastman Music Company and Hammond Ashley Violins all offered to help us obtain amazing instruments that Nathan had had his eye on! In the end, however, the one he ended up choosing was a stunning violin from the 1700's. Through a friend, we met Mike of Burns Violins in Tacoma who then introduced us to Dr. Martin Goldsmith, someone who was looking for a new home for his mother's violin that she played professionally many years ago. It was a perfect match! Nathan is now the proud owner of this beautiful violin and we were even treated to an impromptu performance when our team delivered it to him at the hospital. When his teacher saw and heard the instrument, he declared him "one lucky dude." We know Nathan’s talent will continue to advance with his new, special violin and hope that it brings him lots of joy and comfort. A special coincidence is that Dr. Goldsmith is a retired Mary Bridge Physician and also the father of a friend of one of our directors! Read more about the violin here and watch Nathan play here!
Meet Naomi! Naomi is another recent Rachel's Hugs recipient, who was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma in April. In her sweet application, sixteen-year-old Naomi made a unique request for a fenced dog kennel for the yard at her home in Tacoma. She explained that her dad had recently moved to this new home that did not have a fenced yard, and there wasn't a place for Ragnar, her two-year-old boxer/rottweiler mix, to play and get exercise. Naomi wrote that she thought it would make him really happy to have “a place for himself, where he could play and chew bones”. With a discount provided by Mark Beard of Woodmark Homes LLC, we were able to get a large dog kennel with two gates installed in the space available in their yard. We were also delighted to provide Naomi with a basket of dog toys and treats with help from Mud Bay as well fuzzy socks, and journaling and crafting supplies to keep her busy as she recovers from recent major surgery and completes her ongoing treatments. We think of Naomi often and hope that she is able to enjoy outdoor time with Ragnar on lovely sunny days this fall.
Meet Alexis! Alexis is 18 and loves the color pink, cooking, singing, animals (especially piglets!) and gardening at her home in Lakebay. Oh, and can you believe she's a triplet?! Alexis was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma this past June and has been undergoing treatment this summer. Throughout middle school and high school, Alexis always had a laptop on her "someday” wish list but it just wasn’t in the family budget to provide one for her. We were very excited when we received her Rachels Hugs application because we knew that we could get her what she had long wished for. It was such a delight to meet this sweet young woman and her mother at Mary Bridge this summer to deliver a brand new HP laptop with a pink case and necessary software just in time for her to start online classes! Alexis was thrilled and her Mom reached out to us later that day to say that she hasn't "seen her smile so big in a long time." We love knowing that the laptop has provided Alexis with a great distraction, a tool for her future schoolwork and of course all the fun that technology can bring!
Meet Savannah! Savannah is 9 years old and has been living with a diagnosis of Acute Lymphatic Leukemia for the past 7 years. In her Rachel’s Hugs application, she and her mother talked about the impact that the diagnosis has had on the whole family. Savannah’s request was for help designing and furnishing a game room at their home in Dupont that she could share with her brothers and sisters, her parents and her friends. It was great fun to meet Savannah this summer to surprise her by arriving with all the supplies needed to set up a fun hangout space including an air hockey/ping pong table, bean bag chairs, Pac-Man party light, an Echo Dot for music, party games, a popcorn machine, and other fun snacks! As soon as the room was ready, Savannah served herself the perfect gaming snack (popcorn and M&M's), turned up the music, and challenged her family to a game of ping pong. She grinned from ear to ear and announced that she wanted to sleep in her new game room that night! We enjoy thinking of all of the fun times that Savannah, her family and friends will have in this new space made for smiles and laughter.
Meet Patrick! Patrick is 7 years old and he and his family submitted a Rachel’s Hugs request this summer for a Play Station 4 and video games to help provide a fun distraction for him while he undergoes treatment for Acute Lymphatic Leukemia. He was just diagnosed in June and Patrick and his family knew that a PS4 would bring some smiles and entertainment for him and his friends. Our team was so pleased to stop by his house in Fife this summer to deliver the new gaming system along with several games that he told us he would like to play on it (as well as other games recommended by our followers!), extra controllers and a charging station. Our team couldn't help but also include some fun outdoor summer games and toys to use on sunny days. We also found out that he is a big Green Bay Packer fan, so even though it was hard for us, we did get him some new Green Bay Packers gear to wear as he cheers on his favorite team this fall! We love picturing him having fun with family and friends.
Meet Kiaran! Kiaran is 16 years old and was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in March of 2019. She wrote a unique Rachel's Hugs application hoping for a new washing machine for the family home. She and her mom are both battling cancer at the same time and the stress level of everyone had been rising since their machine stopped working. Two days after receiving the application, we purchased a new Maytag washing machine at the Tacoma Lowe's Home Improvement store and thanks to their manager, Oscar and salesman, Carlos, we were able to have it delivered to their home in Bremerton and installed less than 24 hours later! The family was so relieved and had 12 loads of laundry ready to be cleaned when we left. We weren't able to meet Kiaran because she was in the hospital on the delivery day, but her family shared this sweet photo of her.
As we said goodbye after the washer delivery, we left flowers and a Target gift card for Kiaran so she could have a fun shopping spree to buy things to smile about when she was discharged from the hospital. We understand that she had a wish list and was anxious to shop!
Meet Damien! Damien is 13, lives in Spanaway, and is one of 7 kids in his family! His mom describes him as a great and protective brother to his siblings. His Rachel’s Hugs request was for a new iPhone to replace his very outdated phone so that he can keep in touch with friends while going through treatment, do school work online, and of course, enjoy all the fun distractions that a new phone can offer. We had the privilege of meeting Damien and his mother earlier this month at the Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital Hematology/Oncology clinic and brought him a brand new iPhone XR thanks to a discount from the Apple Store that one of our supporters, Andrew Buttz, was able to help us get! We also provided him with an OtterBox case to help keep the phone protected on his many trips to the hospital and clinic. It is our hope that this phone brings hours of entertainment, and helps Damien feel more connected to his friends and his school as he goes through his treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
Meet Kadence! Kadence is 3 years old, has the most contagious smile, and is full of curiosity! She was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in February of 2019. Her family recently moved into a new home in Tacoma and her Rachel's Hugs request was for a bedroom makeover with twin beds for the new bedroom that she and her little sister Soleia recently settled into. Thanks to our partnerships with Miller Paint, Mattress Ranch, Lakewood Hardware & Paint, and Harkness Furniture and to our foundation friends who sponsored special decorations, bedding, and toys for the room, we were able to create a comfy retreat fit for princesses! With mint green walls, the room is complete with twin beds, chests of drawers, a work table, fun accessories, colorful bedding, lamps, toys, books, puzzles, arts and crafts, tutus, ladybug jammies, and more! Kadence said that she loved her room and could not stop smiling as she explored the new puzzles, games and books, and the fun pillows on the bed. Soleia danced with excitement and sang songs for us! We love to picture them having sweet dreams in this cozy new space.
Meet Karla! Karla's application reminded us so much of Rachel. Karla is 15 years old and was just diagnosed Acute Myeloid Leukemia in May. She loves soccer and cheer, music, and Christmas! Karla’s family lives in Tacoma and they spend lots of time with their big, supportive extended family. She loves making and editing movies, movie trailers, and videos using iMovie so her Rachel’s Hugs request was for a MacBook computer since it would be so much easier than working on these projects on her phone. We were so happy to be able to surprise Karla at the hospital with a new MacBook computer and teal case - her favorite color, which of course we love too! She was so shocked to receive this Hug that she couldn't even open the box while we visited, saying that she just needed some time to process what was happening. We could tell by her sweet smile that this computer will provide just the distraction she will need as she continues her fight. Enjoy your computer Karla - we will be watching for your movies. Maybe you will create a Christmas movie this year!
Meet Samantha! Samantha is 19 years old and was excited to be moving out into her own place in Lakewood, starting a job, and embracing her new independence when she received her diagnosis of Lymphoma in December of 2018. Her Rachel's Hugs request was for a shopping spree at Walmart, her go-to store, so that she could buy fun and necessary things to help her make her new place a home. We were thrilled to present her with a Walmart gift card to buy anything she wanted or needed and also gave her some extra surprises including a gift card to Bath and Body Works to select wonderfully scented things to pamper herself with, a canvas with a replication of Rachel's art to decorate her place, brand new makeup thanks to our friends at Thrive Causemetics, and a cheerful bouquet of flowers. She was so grateful and excited and said she planned to go straight to the stores to do some shopping after she left us! We are sure that she found some great treasures that made her smile and feel more settled in her home.
Meet Avah! Avah is 7 years old and loves to play games and enjoy activities with friends and family at home in Raymond. She was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in 2015 and received a bone marrow transplant 11 months ago. Avah is often limited in being able to go outside, go to school, and visit friend's houses in order to keep her healthy since she is post transplant. Her request was for a gaming system so that she would have something new to play with indoors with family and with friends who visit. We were so excited to present her with a Nintendo Switch with several games and all the needed accessories. We also surprised her with a tub full of art supplies and craft kits for even more indoor fun and some active outdoor games and toys for sunny, summer days. Avah and her little sister were both so excited to play with everything and Avah couldn't stop smiling. We love to think of her smiles now as she plays Mario Kart, creates masterpieces and has a squirt gun fight with her sister and parents on a hot day!
Meet Alondra J! Three year old Alondra was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in May of 2019. She loves pink and purple, Frozen, and Belle! Since she was just ready to transition into a big girl twin bed in her home in Lakewood, her family's Rachel's Hugs request was for a bedroom makeover to create an extra special room for her. We were thrilled to create a cozy retreat fit for a princess complete with a new twin bed with a comfy mattress, pillow and sheets donated by Mattress Ranch, cubbies for toy storage, a new chest of drawers, pink paint donated by Miller Paint, and lots of sparkles! Foundation friends helped by sponsoring colorful bedding, a lamp, lots of fun puzzles and books to fill her cubbies, a pouf, a sparkly tutu, her very own ladybug jammies and more special decorations! When Alondra first saw her new room she had just gotten up from a nap, but after a minute to absorb the transformation, she was all smiles. We love to picture her cozy in her new bed, or playing with toys on her new rug!
Meet Ella! Ella is 14 and loves writing, art and, The Sims. While brainstorming about what she would like, the thought of getting a Macbook brought a "twinkle to her eye" and staff at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital said they "saw a completely different side of her" as she talked about her Hug. We were thrilled to surprise Ella with a brand new Macbook this week thanks to help from Andrew Buttz at Apple! She is now set to start online school in the fall and had The Sims 4 loaded and ready to play when we left. We are so happy that her new MacBook will help with her schoolwork at home in Puyallup and provide a distraction and create smiles as she goes through her treatment and rehabilitation
Meet Angel! Angel is 11 years old and was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in February of 2019. His Rachel's Hugs request was for a shopping spree to help him feel strong and not like he is fighting cancer. We were so pleased to present him with gift cards to Walmart, Target, Nike Outlet, and Ross - all of his favorite stores - so that he could get new shoes, clothes, games, and more! We also learned that Angel loved Star Wars and the beach, so we surprised him with a Star Wars DVD set, a remote-controlled car that can go right over driftwood and dunes on the beach near his home in Aberdeen, and water guns!! What you can't tell by his sweet smile in the photos is that he was having a tough day when we arrived at the hospital and really wasn't feeling well, but he insisted that we still come in. Angel was so happy and gave us all hugs and wanted a photo of us all together. When we left, he was playing with the remote car, grinning from ear to ear and said his tummy ache was all gone. It makes us grin to think of Angel having fun shopping and playing.
Meet Leighton! Leighton is a sweet 8 year old who has been living with cancer since 2015. She loves art and fashion and hoped for a “shopping spree and spa day” at the American Girl store! We were so excited to have the chance to give her a gift card to the American Girl store in Lynnwood so that she and her family can go enjoy some fun shopping and relaxing. Since she might need some clothes for herself to keep up with her new, stylish doll, we also gave Leighton a gift card for H&M along with a gift card for The Cheesecake Factory so they can grab lunch or dessert during their shopping adventure. And of course, because we know what an important activity art is, we gave her an assortment of fun pens, pencils, paper, art books and other fun supplies to nurture her love of crafting. To top it off, she got a new Husky buddy, Snowball! Leighton couldn't contain her excitement and was full of smiles, giggles, and jumping for joy.
Meet Jaelyn! Jaelyn is 16 years old and has been living with leukemia since she was 12 years old. She will be spending more time at Seattle Children's soon for t-cell therapy and a bone marrow transplant, so she hoped for a new phone for a fun distraction and to stay in touch with her friends and family while she is away from home. Mary had the chance to meet sweet Jaelyn and her family to deliver her new iPhone XR along with an OtterBox case and an Amazon.com gift card for other accessories or anything else she might want! Jaelyn's amazing and joyful spirit, combined with her beautiful smile were so much like Rachel's. We know that her positivity and strength will make whatever comes next so much more bearable. A special thank you goes to Andrew Buttz at Apple for helping us to get the phone and accessories. Take care Jaelyn and enjoy your new phone! We are sending all sorts of good thoughts your way as you continue to write your life's story.
Meet Heliodoro! He is 17 and has been waiting patiently to receive medical clearance to get a puppy for a year and a half. We were so excited to deliver a Doberman puppy to him just in time to celebrate his birthday and one year post bone marrow transplant. When we handed him his puppy, he grinned from ear to ear and said "I'm going to cry!" She made herself right at home on his lap with lots of new toys to play with.
A huge thank you goes to Bill and Pati Lynn for sponsoring the puppy in honor of Margaret Archer and her sweet puppy Betty who recently passed away, BerrienHall Doberman's for helping us get this amazing puppy, Dr. Hale and Dr. Martin at Soundview Veterinary Hospital in Tacoma for donating their services, Dog Daze Natural Pet Market for the food and pet supplies, Evan and Keeley Mauro for the toys and treats, and to those of you who donated toward a PetSmart gift card. We are so grateful to all of you for helping make this Hug a reality!
Meet Brian! Brian is 19 years old and hoped for a new cell phone to help him stay in contact with friends and family and provide distraction as he spends a lot of time away from home due his cancer treatment and impacts from a recent surgery. Mary and Nate had the chance to meet Brian and his parents at the hospital and deliver a new iPhone XR along with an OtterBox case and an Amazon gift card for other accessories or anything else he would like! Brian's strength and positive attitude were inspiring and his smile warmed our hearts. A special thank you goes to Andrew Buttz at Apple for helping us get the phone and accessories. Take care Brian and enjoy your new phone!
Meet Oona! Oona is 2 years old and she and her sisters love animals so her Mom suggested a trip to a petting zoo and maybe even a carriage ride! Thanks to the generosity of Debbie Dolittle's indoor petting zoo, Oona and her family and friends were able to experience their own private experience at the indoor petting zoo complete with goat and kangaroo snuggles, snacks, cupcakes, and fun animal masks. And because princesses should only travel in style, we were so excited to meet Tammy at Country Wagon who helped us gift Oona a horse and carriage ride that was fit for Cinderella. To top it off, she returned to a cozy campfire, roasted marshmallows, and a tour of the farm to meet the animals (Oona was fond of the kittens!) We also made sure to include a basket full of cozy blankets, books, puzzles, stuffies, and a membership to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium for many more visits with animals. Keep smiling and have fun, Oona!
Meet Angelina! She is 14 and loves dogs, cooking, shopping, getting her nails done, and getting her teeth cleaned. Angelina's request was for a Yorkie puppy to help lift her spirits and keep her company as she battles cancer. When we were establishing the Hugs program and were thinking of Hugs that we could grant, a puppy was one of the first ideas we thought of. We know how important Rachel's puppy was for her and her mental health. Thanks to Bobbi and William of Cabana Babies for graciously assisting us, Angelina got her very own puppy, Tilly, last night complete with food, treats, toys, and gift cards for the pet store and vet! Angelina immediately hugged Tilly when they met and we knew it was a match made in heaven. Enjoy your new buddy, Angelina - we know you'll be the best of friends.
Stay tuned for more great stories about cancer-fighting kids and young adults and how we're bringing smiles to their faces through the Rachel's Hugs Program!