- December 16, 2016
As the Sunshine Kids came through the door of Karen Medford's Sirius Day Spa in University Park on Aug. 29, she met each one with a smile.
She wanted to make sure they all left with one.
"These are such precious kids," Medford said about hosting the event. "Our only job here today is to see them smile."
The Sunshine Kids organization presents a variety of programs and events free of charge for kids who are receiving cancer treatments.
The Sirius Day Spa event provided the kids and their siblings with massages, nail treatments, makeup applications, hair styling and mini facials.
Three-year-old Owen Hart of Cape Coral was smiling as he walked away from a mini massage. He ran over to his mom, Amy Burge, and gave her a hug. Burge had tears in her eyes.
"He has leukemia," she said of her son. "This is awesome. It's just a little normalcy."
Lakewood Ranch 3-year-old Hadley Carter was being pampered by Sirius Day Spa's Debra Ratzlaff, who was doing her nails. Ratzlaff went slowly, asking the little girl how she could make each of her fingernails look different and special.
Hadley's mom, Ryan, watched from a few feet away.
"She has a soft muscle cancer," Ryan Carter explained. "She is halfway through her treatment. This is awesome for her to have something local."
Sirius Day Spa's Kimberly Weller was having fun doing the nails of Ruskin 5-year-old Callie Johnson, who couldn't stop smiling about all the attention she was getting.
"She just had a bone marrow transplant," said her mom, Marguerite Johnson. "This is such a nice time for her not to think about what she is going through. She isn't thinking about the next three months. This is great for morale. And this was a nice surprise for her. She had been asking all week if she could get her nails done."
Cape Coral 5-year-old Jeremiah Valera started his event by having a temporary tattoo put on his arm. His mom, Daniela Isaza, said his cancer affected his adrenal glands.
"This is so wonderful," she said. "He had COVID so he finally gets to relax and do something. It's wonderful to have an activity with other kids who are a lot like him. It makes him feel safe."
Madison Alger of the Sunshine Kids said the organization was thrilled with a similar spa day Medford hosted at the Sirius Day Spa in Lakewood Ranch two years ago.
"Karen is so awesome," Alger said. "This is one of the only events like this we have for the kids. It was so good (two years ago) that we didn't want to give this event to someone else."
When the kids finished their treatments, they had food waiting for them in the lobby, supplied by Jenny and Mike Schenk of the Pineapple Kitchen of Bradenton.
"It's in our heart to help others," Jenny Schenk said. "We have grandchildren, so to see all these young kids hits home."