By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
Earlier this week, Khamila Vazquez, a third grader at Rocketship Southside Community Prep, visited Children’s Wisconsin, not because she was sick but because she was making a special delivery.
Khamila, along with her parents Magda De Osio and Sal Vazquez, were dropping off toys at Children’s Wisconsin for hospitalized children. As a former patient at Children’s Wisconsin, Khamila knows all too well what its like to spend time in a hospital and how important toys were to her recovery and her good spirits.
One morning, Khamila woke up and was unable to walk or move her arms. Her parents took her to Children’s Wisconsin where she was diagnosed with meningitis. Shortly after being diagnosed, Khamila began working with a therapist twice a week.
For over a year, Khamila visited Children’s Wisconsin. These days, Khamila is able to walk and in spite of the pandemic is finding ways to stay active and keep her muscles moving.
De Osio, Khamila’s mom, said that Khamila participates in swimming and gymnastics and that she’s doing really well. De Osio said Children’s Wisconsin provided an amazing community during Khamila’s recovery. Everything happened so quickly, she said, but Children’s Wisconsin was there through it all.
“They [Children’s Wisconsin] inspire us because they never gave up on us,” De Osio said.
Khamila became close with her therapist Sara during the many hours they spent together during her rehabilitation. And it was that initial bond that inspired Khamila to give back.
De Osio explained that Khamila originally wanted to gift Sara with a cookie and a new mug for the holidays. She then told her parents she wanted to use her money to buy gifts for the children currently at the hospital.
During her therapy, toys were often used as a source of motivation and encouragement.
Khamila explained that during her time at the hospital, playing with the toys would make her happy. She wanted to pass that feeling on to other children who are currently hospitalized.
Word of Khamila’s efforts to buy toys quickly spread. The Sunshine Committee from Rocketship Southside Community Prep helped Khamila spread her message. Family and friends, people from her church and school were soon reaching out to help.
Additionally, De Osio started a GoFundMe to raise donations for toys. So far, Khamila has received over $400 with an end goal of $1,000. (Click here for the GoFundMe link or visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/57mvd-toys-for-childrens-hospital).
“We’re just very happy to be a part of this,” De Osio said.
It feels good to give these toys, Khamila said, adding that she hopes it helps the children who play with them feel good too.
Thanks to Khamila and the community’s efforts, about 50 toys were donated to Children’s Wisconsin.
Please note, Children’s Wisconsin is asking that people call before making toy donations. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospital needs to take the proper steps to ensure its patients are safe. If you are interested in donating, please call 414-266-2000.