Sometimes Building What Matters takes on a whole new meaning.
Our team at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, FL knew they were building a new research and education center directly across from the hospital’s infusion center where children receive regular chemotherapy treatments for a variety of cancers. They knew there were kids fighting for their lives in that hospital, watching out the window at the hard hats and construction equipment.
“Every day, you walk into the cafeteria and walk past the kids,” says Assistant Project Manager Brandon Page. “You see the issues they are dealing with from the chemo. And you want to help make their day a little brighter.”
Each Friday, the nurses hold what they call a “Friday Dance Party” with the kids to celebrate getting through another week of arduous medical treatment and to lift their spirits. They play music, dance and – as one nurse puts it – “just let loose and have fun.”
Brandon, along with General Superintendent Todd Collier, Project Engineer Justin Koenen, and Assistant Superintendent Calin Noonan, decided to bring the “Friday Dance Party” outside to the job site, complete with multicolored signs and their best moves. The video from Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital sets up the story:
Shortly after the first Friday Dance Party, Justin bumped into one of the nurses on campus, who told him the following week, November 4, would be the 13th birthday of a young girl named Katelyne – who was also receiving her last chemotherapy treatment that day before being permanently discharged from the hospital where she had lived since June.
Sensing an opportunity, the crew mobilized a banner – which they signed – and mounted a special “Friday Birthday Dance Party” especially for Katelyne, who watched with her family from her window across the way.
Later, some of the crew visited Katelyne in her room. “She teared up when we brought the signed banner in,” said Justin.
“Seeing the kids and the positive energy of the nurses makes this more than just a project,” said Todd. “Everyone on the project willingly and gladly participates, including all of our subcontractors.”
“It’s so sad for these kids to be going through this. I have a four-year-old and I can’t imagine it,” says Brandon. “They’re innocent and they’ve done nothing wrong. To have to go through something like this is unfair. So anything we can do to give back we do. It should be everybody’s responsibility to do the same.”
Take a look at the full photo album of Katelyne’s Birthday – and her last day in the hospital – here.