Kyle Byrd, a five-year-old boy with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), had his wish granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of America to play baseball with the Arizona Diamondbacks. During Kyle’s visit to Phoenix Chase Field, he received a personalized baseball practice with some of the Diamondback players, a tour of the clubhouse and partook in a team picture before their batting practice. To top off this special day, he threw out the first pitch for the Diamondbacks against the Colorado Rockies!
Both Kyle and his sister Laura have SMA Type II. They are bound to their motorized wheelchairs, but are able to move with a range of upper-body motions and breathe on their own. Despite having SMA Type II, their eager and positive attitudes have helped keep them strong and enjoy each and every day.
Photo Credit: ESPN
This Thoughtful Thursday is dedicated to the Arizona Diamondback’s newest player, Kyle. American author H. Jackson Brown, Jr. once said, “Never let the odds keep you from doing what you know in your heart you were meant to do.” Kyle has proven that he will never let the odds keep him down. He is always ready to make his dreams come true.
Two weeks ago on Family Night at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio, five-year-old Ryan Encinas ran down the football field to score the winning touchdown for the Cleveland Browns. When Ryan was just two years old, a tumor was discovered on his left lung. He spent six weeks in the hospital undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Thankfully, Ryan beat the cancer through the treatments and celebrated his cancer being in remission for two years on August 2nd.
The non-profit organization Littlest Heroes selected Ryan to be a Browns player that Saturday night. The football players and crowd of 24,131 people cheered him on as he ran 40 yards to complete the touchdown.
This Thoughtful Thursday, we honor Ryan for his bravery and showing us that no matter the situation, anyone can be a winner.
Jordan and Harper are two 11-year-old girls from Southlake, Texas who believe in giving back to their community. They may not be old enough to babysit, but that didn’t stop them from becoming “mother’s helpers.” They help watch children while the moms are home so that they can get household activities done while the kids are busy playing.
To these girls, payback is worth more than a paycheck. Rather than keeping the money earned, they donated the money to the Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas.
“It makes us feel really good inside,” said Jordan. “We’ve touched so many lives of children, and we know that we are making them happier and helping them heal.”
When their parents found out what the girls wanted to do with the money, they matched the amount the girls wanted to donate. The girls were able to present Cook Children’s Medical Center with a $500 donation.
This Thoughtful Thursday, we admire the efforts of Jordan and Harper for giving back to children in need. Thank you for being so generous at such a young age.
Prom, a night filled with bright lights, loud music and close friends, is an experience that many teens look forward to during the end of their high school journey. After Fred Scarf lost his friend Shiri to cancer when he was 15 years old, he decided to make sure he could help teens with life-threatening illnesses attend prom. It started out with 20 patients in 2006 and grew to annual proms in five cities. The growth of this special event in teens’ lives has been transformed into a nonprofit organization called No Worries Now. Since 2006, over 3,000 teenagers have attended these proms. The executive director of No Worries Now, Marta Belcher, talks about the experience that their unforgettable prom provides. “For teens who have been in and out of the hospital the opportunity to let go and dance and celebrate life is a really meaningful experience,” she said.
One teen that felt rejuvenated after attending one of these unforgettable proms was Cecilia “Cecy” Saravia. When Cecy was 14 years old, she was diagnosed with leukemia. When Cecy’s strength was wearing thin, her mother, Estella, found out about No Worries Now through the children’s hospital where Cecy was undergoing treatments. Once Cecy heard about the program, she felt energized, especially when there was a dress giveaway and she was able to choose from hundreds of donated designer dressers.
Cecy is now 18 years old and her cancer has been in remission for over a year. So far, she has attended three unforgettable proms. Each year she is motivated to attend because she can share her story and inspire others to beat their illnesses. Cecy is the definition of a survivor, as she recently graduated from high school this past June. This Thoughtful Thursday, we commend Fred and those teens fighting life-threatening illnesses as they pursue their dreams of attending an unforgettable prom.
The Toy Bank is a program that is a part of the Toy Industry Foundation, which strives to bring happiness and learning to kids in need of play. In 2003, the Toy Bank partnered with Kids in Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S) to distribute toys around the globe to charities that help foster children, children with cancer, military families, children with special needs, and families in poverty,. The Toy Bank has helped make play time possible for over 10 million children! Since 2003, over $85 million worth of toys has been collected from the hundreds of toy companies that the Toy Bank works with.
Step2 has donated to the Toy Bank since they began 10 years ago. We recently received a recognition certificate from the Toy Bank for being a loyal partner. The Toy Bank has spread joy to children all around the world. We believe that every child deserves a chance to play and that is why it brings us joy to work with the Toy Bank. This Thoughtful Thursday, we thank the Toy Bank and the other toy companies that donate to this worthy cause, for their generosity and willingness to put a smile on the faces of children throughout the world.
The letter reads: Thank you for 10 years of outstanding support to help reach more than 10 million children in need. The Toy Industry Foundation appreciates your loyal partnership since The Toy Bank’s inception in 2003.
Eli Rosenberg, a sixth grader at Pinetree Elementary School with high-functioning autism, gave an inspiring graduation speech to his fellow classmates, thanking them for always accepting him. During Eli’s speech, he spoke about his time at Pinetree Elementary and the struggle he underwent to work on his social skills. At the end of Eli’s speech, he encouraged his fellow classmates to make a difference in the lives of others:
“As we leave here today, I have a challenge for all of you. We are all different. Not less, just different. We all have things we’re good at, things we need to work on, and things we need help with. Whenever you see someone else who is different, instead of just judging them or being a bully, I challenge you to offer help and treat that person with the kindness you have shown me over the last six years. Remember, all of you can make a difference in someone’s life. You’ve already made a difference in mine.”
This Thoughtful Thursday, we admire Eli for his courage and thank him for teaching his classmates to accept each other for their differences. It is people like Eli that that help make this world a better and stronger place.