By Leslie Ballard
“I think helping others is her future – she loves kids and does what she can to help them,” Lexi Koopman’s grandmother Diana says of her efforts to cheer up children at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital through her Cards4aCause event.
Lexi is asking anyone interested in helping her make cards for the children to meet at the Allegan Public Library Board Room between 10 am and 2 pm on July 9.
“The more I thought about it I realized that I should spend my birthday doing something I love and am passionate about and that’s helping people. So on my actual birthday I’ll be delivering all the cards to Helen DeVos,” she explained. Her 17th birthday is July 16.
Her goal is to produce 249 cards, the number of rooms at the hospital. She will have supplies for people to use, but they are welcome to bring anything special they might want to use. She will also accept donations of supplies or money to purchase them. She can be contacted through her Facebook page or at email@example.com.
This is not her first effort to help hospitalized children. “In the past I’ve held three bake sales raising $1000 for Helen DeVos. I’ve made and mailed over five dozen cards to an organization in Chicago called Cards for Hospitalized Kids. They take handmade cards and deliver them to different children’s hospitals across the country. In April I organized an Easter egg hunt for kids with disabilities, raising money through a silent auction for the pediatric unit at Mary Free Bed,” she said.
Lexi has been featured on Fox 17 news for her endeavors “to give back to the staff and the kids.”
Her commitment is partly the result of her own experiences. Lexi, who is legally blind, was diagnosed with functional neurological disorder in November and spent December in Mary Free Bed Hospital. She can now walk with a forearm crutch, but swallowing issues meant a two week stay at Bronson Children’s Hospital for treatment of malnutrition and dehydration. She now has a feeding tube.
She says she understands what it’s like not to be able to get out and play and enjoy the summer and thinks the cards will remind the children that others are thinking of them and wishing them well. “That can make them happy,” Lexi added.
She smiles as she recounts all the positive interactions she experienced with the hospital staffs, and how kind the nurses were to her. She also met a lot of other kids during her hospital stays and knows that they could use “cheering up.”
These experiences have made her want to seek a career as a pediatric nurse and eventually work at the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.
Lexi is a junior at Allegan Online.