Heartfelt Hugs by Madelene Cares is a program that provides fun events and celebrations for siblings of critically ill children. This organization was created by 12 year old Madelene Kleinhans, the sibling of a little brother with cancer.
The Impact of Critical Illness on a Sibling
When a child develops a critical illness, every member of the family is affected. Siblings of critically ill children are at a risk for a variety of issues such as lower self-esteem, jealousy of the ill child, poor peer relationships, excessive worry and guilt for being the “healthy child”. Currently there are no other programs exclusively for siblings in the state of Colorado.
In April of 2010, when Madelene was 7, her brother Addison began to complain of tired legs, had night sweats and excessive bruising. When he was diagnosed with leukemia, the entire family’s normal life drastically changed. Addison had to undergo 38 months of daily chemo which often meant that Madelene had to spend her own birthday or holidays at the cancer clinic instead of at home celebrating with her friends and family. In 2011, Madelene decided to start a support group for children whose siblings are battling cancer or have a critical illness.
Heartfelt Hugs by Madelene Cares meets every two months for a 2-4 hour for a fun outing, where each child feels special and can escape their sibling’s illness for an afternoon. All attention is focused on the sibling as they participate in events such as an afternoon at the pumpkin patch, a roller skating pizza party or a big outdoor picnic birthday party where each sibling gets to celebrate their birthday complete with cake and presents.
The families come to the group through Children’s Hospital Colorado, Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children at P/SL and other hospitals and hospice organizations. Madelene and the other members of Heartfelt Hugs are so grateful for your donations to make sure that no sibling is unable to attend an event.