Westchester Kid is a series that shines a light on Westchester county’s best and brightest kids. Through their cool achievements, go-getter attitudes and desire to give back to our community, these kids are people we can all look up to.
Our newest Westchester Kid is Amanda Carlson, a 12-year-old from Yorktown Heights who took a scary hospital stay and turned it into a much more positive experience by giving back to the local hospital that treated her and helping other sick kids in the process.
Tell us a about your hospital stay.
On November 17th I was admitted into Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital and diagnosed with a rare strain of E. coli know as Shiga toxin. During this time, I was isolated to my room and in a lot of pain. After five days, I developed a very rare side effect from this E. coli called HUS (Hemolytic-uremic syndrome). This syndrome caused the breakdown of my red blood cells, platelets and kidney function. There is no treatment for HUS, only support. I was under the care of a team of awesome doctors and nurses. They would test my blood twice a day. I had to get three red blood cell transfusions. These were kinda painful.
What inspired you to start your project and how did you get it off the ground?
I spent 16 days including Thanksgiving at Maria Fareri and during this time I wasn’t allowed to leave my room. The Child Life & Creative Arts Therapy Department at the hospital would always bring me arts & crafts, games, and movies to entertain me and help the time pass.
The hospital also has “Fun Centers” to keep kids entertained. The Fun Center is powered by Nintendo. It is a large screen on a cart that has the Wii. The cart can be signed out through the Child Life Center and is brought to your room so you can play. All the games are there also. You are also able to get on the internet from the console. I would have loved to have been able to play with a Fun Center but there were so few of them and so many sick kids. I never got the chance.
At the end of my stay, my family was so grateful for my recovery and the care I received that we wanted to give something back to the hospital. My grandmother, Denise DiCostanzo, came up with the idea of collecting money to donate a Fun Center to the hospital. We created a Gofundme page and within a few weeks had more than enough money to purchase a Fun Center. The donations came from family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. We raised over $7,000.
What happened next?
On Tuesday, January 24th, I went to Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital and donated The Fun Center along with a check for $1,600 to The Child Life & Creative Arts Therapy Department. They were so happy to receive this new machine as it is the first to not only include the Wii but also the Wii U! This Fun Center will be available to go into the rooms of kids who are unable to leave their room or get out of bed. I know that staying in the hospital is no fun, but this Fun Center will help the time pass and make a kid’s stay a little fun.
My stay at the hospital ended with two positive results. First, my health has been restored 100 percent and second the children at Maria Fareri now have this amazing machine to entertain them.
Do you have any advice to other kids who want to make a difference?
My advice to other children who want to make a difference is “With a little effort from a lot of people great things can be accomplished.”
Tell us three fun or unusual facts about you:
- I was known as the kid that would laugh hysterically while the nurses were drawing my blood.
- My hospital room was decorated with a life-sized poster of Justin Bieber and was always filled with my entire family and friends visiting. The nurses said I won the award for the most visitors and best decorated room.
- I have a passion for cheerleading and tumbling.
P.S. Always remember to wash your hands and use hand sanitizer!!!