Imagine being a kid who instead of going to soccer practice or ballet class has to stay cooped up in a hospital all day, struggling with disabilities or life-saving treatments. It’s not that difficult to picture for Emi and Kevin Burke, whose youngest son Conor has been in and out of hospitals his entire life.
The Burkes were told that Conor would most likely never sit, crawl, walk, speak, or do virtually any of things his older brothers could. It was during one of Conor’s hospitalizations that Emi noticed how many of the other children had nothing to do, not even simple activities like coloring or playing games.
So the Burkes launched the Message of Hope Foundation, a non-profit that delivers “happy hope bags” to children with special needs and chronic illnesses. For one dollar, donors can give a child a bag filled with goodies like crayons, stickers, coloring books, eyeglasses, and even an iTunes gift card. Over the next year and a half, the Message of Hope Foundation will distribute 20,000 bags to children in U.S. hospitals, their website states.
The foundation has had a profound impact, not just on the children who've received the gifts, but on the parents who created it.
“In the very beginning we were told that Conor would not have a life really,” said Emi Burke on MSNBC Friday. Now, she said, it’s “absolutely amazing to watch a child who was given very little hope be able to turn it around and use [Conor’s] gift.”
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