Helping Sick Children One Bead at a Time

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There’s a call to action for first responders to join a program that comforts sick children. It’s called “Beads of Courage” and the idea is to give kids going through treatment strength during times of struggle.  Thursday, Eyewitness News learned more about how it all works.

A simple glass bead.  It looks like nothing more than a piece of jewelry, but to children going through the fight of their lives, it’s a source of encouragement.  Wilkes-Barre Fire Department Firefighter Tom Heffers says “the child that’s in the Beads program will receive a bead anytime they have an x-ray, blood work, see a doctor, surgery, some biopsy, whatever, and the child can get up to 500 beads their first year.”  The Beads of Courage program pairs a first responder with a child in the hospital.  That responder, like Heffers, wears a pair of beads while on duty.  Then one is given to the child when he or she receives a medical treatment.  “We go down to Danville Janet Weiss Hospital and meet with the kids individually. Hand out beads to kids that are in the program, meet with the parents.  It’s a short time, but it means a lot to the kids,” says Heffers.

to children going through the fight of their lives, it’s a source of encouragement.  Wilkes-Barre Fire Department Firefighter Tom Heffers says “the child that’s in the Beads program will receive a bead anytime they have an x-ray, blood work, see a doctor, surgery, some biopsy, whatever, and the child can get up to 500 beads their first year.”  The Beads of Courage program pairs a first responder with a child in the hospital.  That responder, like Heffers, wears a pair of beads while on duty.  Then one is given to the child when he or she receives a medical treatment.  “We go down to Danville Janet Weiss Hospital and meet with the kids individually. Hand out beads to kids that are in the program, meet with the parents.  It’s a short time, but it means a lot to the kids,” says Heffers.

The beads sent out Thursday were worn by Wilkes-Barre firefighters reponding to this deadly high rise fire in the city.  The idea is to give that kid the courage to get through something that can be scary to a child.  David Palermo from the Palermo Heart-To-Heart says “this is not a 9-5 job for these people.  They have heart, they have compassion, they care about the community and this is an example for them to show that.”  Now, the Palermo Heart-to-Heart Foundation is using the Badges and Boots campaign to recruit more first responders to carry beads.  “We want to challenge other first responders throughout northeastern Pennsylvania to join us,” Palermo adds.

It’s a tiny token that can make a big difference.  Heffers calls out, “100 or 200 more.  There’s a lot of EMS workers, lot of firefighters, police officers in this area, come on and step up to the plate.”  

The Palermo Heart-to-Heart Foundation serves about 1,000 children at 4, soon to be 5, local hospitals through the beads of courage program. 

To learn more about getting involved visit www.beadsofcourage.org.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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