Nursing student provides hope to seriously ill pediatric patients

Lindsay Kunik.

Lindsay Kunik.

Lindsay Kunik was inspired to start the nonprofit Butterfly Kisses Care Baskets after meeting an 8-year-old pediatric patient named Ellie. The nonprofit, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, aims to support children with cancer and other serious illnesses by providing care baskets, packages and other supportive measures to families. The organization also aims to raise awareness of childhood cancer and other underfunded pediatric diseases.

“After Ellie passed away in 2010, my close friend Holly Walsh and I decided that we wanted to do something in her honor to help children like her,” said Kunik, a senior at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing. “Butterflies were an important symbol to Ellie and her family during her illness. To me, they were also a sign of change and hope.”

Since 2010, Butterfly Kisses has served more than 300 children with serious life-threatening illnesses. Both Kunik and Walsh visit local children in hospitals and their homes and mail packages to families throughout the U.S.

“For families that are not local, we create a collage with photos that the family provides to us,” she said. In addition, the child and siblings receive a personalized goody box filled with small toys that are age appropriate, such as crayons, small art projects, jewelry, games, Play-Doh and stickers. If the child is local, they receive a larger care basket filled with art sets, fleece blankets, decorated pillow cases, handheld games, chalk and bubbles.

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