Hospitalized with Debilitating Disease, Patient's Wish to Spread Holiday Joy at Connecticut Hospital Comes True
The Christmas season will be much brighter for patients recovering from devastating illnesses and injuries at Connecticut's Gaylord Specialty Healthcare, thanks to the efforts and determination of one young woman whose thoughtfulness spurred a generous donation from Amazon.
Completely robbed of her mobility from a rare metabolic disease, the former athlete came to the nonprofit long-term acute care hospital in November for intensive inpatient rehabilitation in the hopes of restoring her function. She was sad not only because of her condition, but because she also knew that she would be spending part of the holiday season far from family and friends.
After purchasing a small light-up Christmas tree online, the woman quickly realized its presence in her hospital room brought her immense joy and peace.
"That tree really made me feel so much better," she said. "Suddenly, it wasn't scary being in the hospital anymore. It felt like Christmas."
The patient, who asked not to be identified, devised a plan that would allow her to share that "same special feeling" with other Gaylord patients by asking her family and friends to help her buy as many Christmas trees as possible. Their collective donations supported the purchase of more than 40 small trees.
After telling Gaylord employees, "I only wish I could do more," hospital staff reached out to Amazon in the hopes of making their patient's wish come true.
Within hours of the request, Caitlin McLaughlin, Amazon Public Relations New England, informed the hospital that they would donate an additional 85 light-up trees to cover the remainder of the hospital's 127 private rooms.
"It's incredible," said McLaughlin. "We knew that her wish was to be able to get a tree in every room and Amazon was very happy to grant that wish."
Throughout the week, Santa Claus and his elves have been distributing trees to Gaylord Specialty Healthcare patients who are recovering from life-altering illnesses and injuries ranging from traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, complex strokes and more.
In a note attached to each tree, the anonymous patient wrote that Amazon "made my wish of spreading joy to the entire hospital a reality."
"As you continue your own healing journey," she continued, "I sincerely hope that this tree will brighten your spirits this holiday season."
"There is a lot of love in here," said one patient, Shirley, after receiving a tree from Santa Claus. "I think it's wonderful because I think this time of the year should be about love and kindness."
Tara Knapp, Gaylord Vice President of External Affairs, said that she was impressed with Amazon's quick response to a single patient's desire to make a difference for others.
"The tree may be small, but the impact is huge," said Knapp. "Thanks to Amazon's generosity, we are in a position to give a tree and brighten the stay of any patient who wants one. It's about the gesture, the spirit, and ultimately making people's lives better."