Ten-year-old Alexia had been worried about her baby sister Ayla as the one-year-old endured cancer treatments. When Alexia received a special Sibling Courage Kit from the Cooper Trooper Foundation, it was “a nice surprise that she got something for herself,” says her mom, Dana Ochoa.
Inside Alexia’s Courage Kit was a Huggable Hope that matched her sister’s Chemo Duck. “Most of our attention has shifted to Ayla, so we worried that Alexia feels left out sometimes,” says Dana. The Courage Kit helped her feel included. “Such a sweet thing, and it was comforting for her to know she was involved,” says Dana. “Alexia sleeps with her Hope duck every night.”
As part of a new partnership between Gabe’s Chemo Duck and Cooper Trooper Foundation, Huggable Hope ducks are now included in the Courage Kits distributed to siblings of children diagnosed with cancer at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt (MCJCHV). Courage Kits are also available by request online.
“Huggable Hope ducks are a great addition to our Courage Kits,” says Missy Cook, who founded the Cooper Trooper Foundation with her husband, Rod, after their youngest son, Cooper, was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer and they recognized a huge need for hospital-based sibling resources for parents.
“Children diagnosed with cancer receive a Chemo Duck to bring them comfort and provide education on their new diagnosis, so it only makes sense to give siblings, who often feel left out yet are fighting alongside their brother or sister, their own similar companion duck.”
Alexia and Ayla love their special ducks in special ways, says mom Dana. Knowing that “Gabe” has a matching port makes all the difference for Ayla. “The port is a big part of the chemo journey, so it’s neat for her to see it on Gabe. She’s not the only one—Gabe has a port, too! And Alexia likes that her Hope duck matches her sister’s. It’s so cute to see them side-by-side with their ducks!”
Courage Kits also include a tee-shirt, courage medal, journal/pen, personalized certificate, a book for siblings of children diagnosed with a chronic illness and more.
Both Gabe’s and Cooper Trooper are the result of families personally touched by childhood cancer. “We realize how devastating it can be,” says Cook.
Providing support for the entire family is Cooper Trooper’s mission, and Gabe’s My Heart aligns perfectly with that. “We’re helping to provide support, education and encouragement to families whose worlds have been turned upside down by childhood cancer. We want siblings to know they’re not forgotten.”
“Watching her sister go through this, it’s scary for Alexia,” says Dana. “It’s a very stressful time.” The girls’ father, Joel, is about to deploy to Afghanistan. “Hope will be there to give Alexia someone to hug when her daddy’s not here,” says Dana. “She’ll give her courage.”
Purchase a Huggabe Hope for someone you love today!