AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two Austin-area kids and one teenager warmed soles this holiday season.
Five-year-old Madi Jordan, six-year-old Penn Lampton and 19-year-old Grace Mosby each donated socks over the past couple of weeks. The former two gave to Dell Children’s Medical Center and the latter to Texas Children’s Hospital.
They’re three of 50 childhood cancer survivors/fighters from across America who all joined together for Resilience Gives’ Socks with Stories: Paying It Forward initiative. The gifts are non-slip socks co-designed by children battling cancer. Each sock design has a story to tell. The campaign is meant to show kids in active treatment, and their families, there is light at the end of the tunnel — however small the act.
“She has such a giving heart that she just enjoyed it so much,” Madi’s mom Niki Jordan said. “It just makes my heart filled with joy just watching them and the eagerness of all — I have three girls, so they all were there to help.”
The Jordan family shares Madi’s story a lot.
“It gives hope to others and that’s what those socks did too. It’s gonna bring hope to the children in the hospitals right now,” Jordan said.
She knows the power of giving because others did that for her family when a pediatrician diagnosed Madi with retinoblastoma at four-months-old.
“Receiving gifts when you’re there just brings a sense of community and just gives kids hope, honestly. And like I said, donations are down — coloring books, everything. It’s just a distraction while you’re in there and helps you feel more relatable to the outside world, too, that people care about you while you’re in a trial.”
The Socks with Stories initiative continues into December. Participants are visiting their local children’s hospitals donating more than 2,500 pairs of their socks.
Jake Teitelbaum, a refractory Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor, founded Resilience Gives in 2016 during his stem cell transplant. While in the hospital, he became frustrated by the socks he had to wear, which he considered “poorly made and ugly.”
“I was getting a little too familiar with those socks so after getting them a few times, it was like, ‘you know, if I’m gonna be in here for a month, it would be nice to have a good pair of socks.'”
So, he started working with younger pediatric cancer patients to design fun socks inspired by their journeys. Resilience Gives matches every pair sold with a donated pair to a child in the hospital, which fueled their nationwide donation initiative.
“We really wanted to find a way to incorporate more families in this whole community that we’re building,” Andee Wallace said.
Wallace is the co-owner and director of operations at Resilience Gives. The business is small but growing. Since its inception, the duo has worked with more than 100 kids to design socks and plan to increase that number.
“Our mission as an organization is to use creativity and community to empower families impacted by cancer,” Teitelbaum said. “We can’t have every kid in a hospital make socks. It’s just really hard to do but we want to involve families in other ways. Giving families, like Madi’s, an opportunity to pay-it-forward by giving socks that another cancer survivor has made to other kids in the hospital, I think is a cool way to further that message of resilience.”
“We want to be able to communicate that there is hope,” Wallace said.
In the past, they’ve donated in-person, going into the hospitals and handing them out. However, the pandemic changed things. This fall was the first time they worked with other childhood cancer survivors to distribute the socks. Jake and Andee packaged the 50 pairs and mailed them to the families. The families then coordinated the donations with their respective hospitals where they were treated. Due to COVID-19 and different hospital policies, some families were able to bring their donations in during a scheduled appointment, while others could only do a hand off outside.
Overall, five kids donated in Texas: three in Austin, one in San Antonio, and one in Houston. They donated a total of 250 socks across four hospitals, including:
- Dell Children’s Hospital in Austin
- Texas Children’s in Austin
- Texas Children’s in Houston
- Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio
One of the Texas participants, Emma Rae, from San Antonio, designed her socks with Resilience Gives.
“We try to draw on experiences throughout those journeys to create something that’s meaningful to where they’ve been,” Teitelbaum said.