Finding A Comforting Friend In A Not So Familiar Place

As a marketing intern for the Northern Arizona Healthcare Foundation, I have encountered countless inspirational and moving stories that have made me appreciate health and happiness. Recently I met Darlene and Rick Rokosz, a couple from Cottonwood, Arizona, who founded “Project K.I.A.N: Kids In Affection Need.” Inspired by their grandson, the Rokoszes work to ensure that every child who is admitted to the Flagstaff Medical Center Pediatrics department receives a stuffed animal to soothe and comfort them during tests and procedures, and make their overnight stays at little less daunting.

In less than three years the Rokoszes have donated 500 stuffed toys, thereby impacting hundreds of children.

Not too long ago, I experienced my own unsettling medical scare; I too received a stuffed toy for company. Even though I was a teenager, I still appreciated the gesture when I was hospitalized. Through a child’s eyes, the experience must be even more terrifying and the toys even more comforting.

I have kept every stuffed animal I received for two reasons. The first, because they were a reminder of my survivorship.  The second, to remember the amazing people who gave me a piece of safety and comfort when I needed it most.

People like Darlene and Rick, who work every day to prevent a child from being scared, will always have special place in my heart.

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Clinton WebbComment