Friday, June 5, 2015

Child Life Services Inspires Patient to Give Back to MGHfC

Every April, patient Nick Pemberton welcomes his friends, baskets in hand, to search his backyard for colorful plastic eggs filled with goodies. The event is called the annual Spring Egg Hunt and behind it is Nick, an 8-year-old boy from Taunton, Mass., who finds joy in helping others.

The Spring Egg Hunt is one of Nick’s many philanthropic efforts that benefits MGHfC and the John Hancock Child Life and Wellness Services. At just 8 years old, Nick and his family have raised nearly $13,000 through different fundraising events over the past three years.

Nick Pemberton
Nick Pemberton (front) delivers toys to Child Life services with his sister, Olivia (back left), and Jamie Rossi, MS, CCLS. The toys were donated by Nick's friends and family at his annual Spring Egg Hunt.

Nick became at patient at MGHfC at age 3 when doctors referred him and his parents, Karen Grossi-Pemberton and Tom Pemberton, to Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. “We knew something wasn’t right when Nick was a baby. He was very cranky and he wasn’t eating well,” said Karen. “After many tests and doctors’ appointments, we learned that Nick had polyps in his colon.”

The Pembertons also learned that Nick would need a colonoscopy every 1-2 years to make sure he stayed healthy. The first two colonoscopies proved to be difficult for Nick and his family. “The colonoscopy prep made Nick feel very sick and the procedure was unpleasant. He didn’t look forward to it,” said Karen. “It was a difficult time for him and for all of us.”

When it came to Nick’s third colonoscopy at MGHfC, his experience changed completely when he met Jamie Rossi, MS, CCLS, a child life specialist in Pediatric Endoscopy. “When John Hancock Child Life and Wellness Services became involved in Nick’s care, his outlook on coming to the hospital became more positive, which was a huge difference compared to previous years,” said Karen. “Jamie helped Nick prepare for the colonoscopy and explained it in a kid-friendly way. She played games with him while he waited, which helped ease Nick’s anxieties. Her efforts made the trip into Boston more upbeat and she added a little fun.”

After Rossi helped Nick through his colonoscopy, she never imagined how strong of a relationship she would have with Nick and his family. “I remember Nick as shy and anxious when I first met him,” said Rossi. “Now, Nick is thriving and happy. It’s amazing to see how far he’s come with his anxieties over the years and to see such wonderful generosity.”

Other members of his care team, or “his people,” as Nick calls them, including pediatric gastroenterologist Jeffrey Biller, MD, also made a positive impact on Nick’s experience. This inspired him to help other children during their hospital visits. In June 2012, Nick, along with his sister, Olivia, their family and friends and Eastern Music, a music shop in downtown Taunton, organized a concert in Taunton that benefited the John Hancock Child Life and Wellness Services and had the proceeds matched by Frito-Lay®. The concert raised about $11,000. Since then, Nick has raised almost $2,000, plus countless numbers of toys, for Child Life services.

Nick’s favorite event, however, is his annual Spring Egg Hunt. To participate, children donate a toy or funds to Child Life services. “I love my Spring Egg Hunt because I get to fundraise for the hospital and have a fun day with my friends and my family,” said Nick. “Because of all the times I had to come here, I wanted to make it easier for other kids.”

Since Rossi learned about Nick’s efforts to give back, his generosity has touched many children and staff at MGHfC. “Through Nick and his family’s philanthropic efforts, we’ve been able to continue giving toys, games and other fun materials that help so many children over the years, not only in Pediatric Endoscopy, but in other pediatric areas as well,” said Rossi.

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