“Every single night, it’s like clockwork. Finn goes up to him and says ‘Daddy’ and pulls him toward the door and says, ‘Wagon ride, wagon ride, wagon ride.’”
Despite it being a freezing and dark Virginia night, 2-year-old Finn, born with congenital heart disease, wants to go on a ride in his Radio Flyer wagon. Every. Single. Night.
Finn has loved the iconic red wagon since his first ride through the hospital halls in June of 2015. The steady movements of the wheels, the fact he can sit up on his own and not feel restrained are some of the many reasons.
Starlight Provides Radio Flyer Wagons to Hospitals
Finn had open-heart surgery April 13, 2015 and had to spend months in the hospital recovering. One day his mother, Kelly, was downstairs in the cafeteria at University of Virginia Health System and noticed a little girl in a Radio Flyer wagon, still hooked up to an IV, eating pancakes with her parents.
After asking them about it, she soon discovered that there were multiple Radio Flyer’s upstairs donated by Starlight.
“At that point, it became my ninja mission, Finn needs to go on a wagon ride. He needs to get out of his room,” Kelly said.
After working with the nurses on how to safely place Finn and his chest tube in the wagon, he was able to roam the halls for just 15 minutes. But then it was time for him to get back into the hospital bed.
“He doesn’t make noise usually because he has tubes in, but right then he started crying and didn’t want to get out of the wagon,” Kelly said.
Radio Flyer Becomes Bed for Five Weeks
That turned into five weeks of Finn sleeping in the wagon. It became his safe spot, he received x-rays, blood work – everything – from the comfort of the Radio Flyer wagon.
Wheeling around the halls also became a form of physical therapy for Finn. Kelly and the doctors noticed the more he sits up the better it is for his heart and circulation.
When Finn’s brother, Mason, came to visit, both of the boys would enjoy a wagon ride together and made the hospital hallways their racetrack.
Now, a year later, Kelly doesn’t bring a stroller to hospital visits. Instead she brings her own Radio Flyer wagon because she knows Finn will be happier and more comfortable.
“To parents, the wagon can be just another toy, but to kids, especially a special needs kid, it is magic.”
Radio Flyer has been a Starlight Children’s Foundation partner since 2001 and has contributed more than 12,000 of its signature Radio Flyer wagons to support sick kids at Starlight community partners in the United States. The wagons help make the healing experience a fun adventure for patients during their time in the hospital.
If you would like to help brighten the lives of seriously ill children like Finn, you can donate today. Your gift combined with the gift of others helps turn pain, fear and stress into laughter, fun and joy – because a sick kid is still a kid at heart.