Photo Credit: Caitlin Shannon
While most 15-year-old girls spend their free time watching the latest shows on Netflix or hanging out with friends, Sophomore Caitlin Shannon is changing the lives of chronically ill patients one care package at a time. Shannon, creator of Sparkle Power, has worked with numerous patients showering them with small toys and gifts in a package to brighten their day. Shannon has also developed relationships with the kids and families she has supported.
What inspired you to start this organization?
“In September 2013, I had what was supposed to be a general routine surgery. Unfortunately, there were complications in the surgery. From those complications, I missed 2 months of school, and had to travel the state looking for doctors, and had to go out-of-state to the to Cleveland Clinic. As my family and I were looking for answers of what was wrong, I faced a lot of pain. Through all of my following procedures, I saw many kids in hospital with chronic pain as well. Once I had recovered, I was still remembering the kids who were sick. I decided I wanted to do something to help. The kids were lonely and I wanted to provide them with company and comfort items to brighten their day.”
What Exactly is ‘Sparkle Power’?
“Sparkle Power is an organization I began in the summer of 2015. My goal was to create create care packages for pediatric patients in the hopes of bringing sparkle to their day (hence the name ‘Sparkle Power’). The packages include comfort items such as, chapstick, tissues, small toys, play dough, nail polish, socks, and beanies for kids with cancer. The packages are for any child with a chronic illness, but it mainly focuses on pediatric oncology.”
Who did you start the organization with?
“I started the organization with just me, the help of my family, and a few volunteers.”
Have you developed any close relationships with the kids and families you have helped?
“Yes! One day, I was asked to come in for a blood transfusion for a patient with leukemia. He was a 19-month-old baby boy. I was asked to visit him for four hours and play with him while he was receiving chemotherapy. He stayed perfectly still, and we instantly bonded. He was so happy to have new toys and games from the care package I brought him.”
How often do you make care packages/visit with kids?
“About every month, we make a large amount of care packages. Usually every week, I deliver the packages to kids. I am always on call, since there are so many kids. I also come whenever the parents need me to. Having a sick child can isolate a parent from the outside world by not letting them run errands, or take care of their other children. This allows them to go places like the grocery store, and live a normal life. While watching the kids, I am required to know basic medical information and CPR.”
Has your experience interested you in the medical field?
“I would love to work with kids in the future. Since I am always around kids fighting cancer, I am especially interested in being a pediatric oncologist.”
Is there a way for Academy girls to get involved?
“As of now, Julianna Wright and I are planning to do a drive where we will ask members of S Club and maybe people outside of S club to bring in items that these kids need. All the items we collect, will be turned into a christmas gift for all the children at the hospital. Or at least this is what we are contemplating.”