Memorial Children’s Hospital and your Silver Hawks will celebrate Aileen Corona during a special celebration ceremony, Home Run for Life, on Friday, June 13th.
The celebration will take place in the middle of the 3rd inning at Four Winds Field. Your Silver Hawks, along with the Lake County Captains, will line the field to join in on the ceremony as Aileen rounds the bases. Upon completing the celebratory home run, Silver Hawks’ Manager, Mark Haley will present her with a personalized Silver Hawks jersey. Home Run for Life celebrates and honors children who have battled serious medical conditions. Each child is honored and takes a home run lap around the bases during a Silver Hawks home game.
At the closing of the celebration staff and volunteers from Memorial Children’s Hospital will pass around donation buckets. Please consider giving a donation to help enhance the care children can receive right here in your community.
When Aileen Corona first arrived at Memorial Children’s Hospital after a diagnosis of Osteosarcoma (bone cancer), she was sad, shy, uncertain and unable to cope with being apart from her mom during long hospital stays.
“Aileen would shed many tears the nights her mom, Noemi, couldn’t be with her,” says Julie Kowalenko, a charge nurse for Pediatrics and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. “At times we would have to call mom at work so Aileen could talk with her. I began to notice how Aileen always had her nails done, and to help make her more comfortable and at ease, I would comment on how nice they looked.”
Julie, known in Pediatrics as an “Ambassador of Fun,” suggested setting up a nail salon for Aileen.
“I told Aileen – ‘You could really do something for us because nurses notoriously have the worst nails and our nails need your help!'”
Aileen’s eyes sparkled at the suggestion. With the help of Child Life Specialist Liz Eash, a pink and purple glittery sign announced Aileen’s Nail Salon was open for business on the sixth floor of MCH.
The first of its kind, nurses and patients regularly visit the salon to have their nails painted by the budding nail expert. But first, they have to obtain a ticket from the reception area.
“The tickets have a purpose,” Julie says. “For every five tickets, Aileen gets to pick out a prize.”
Thanks to the salon’s customers and repeat customers, Aileen has earned plenty of tickets and taken home some real goodies, including an MP3 player.
“I’ve painted a lot of nails and picked out several prizes,” Aileen says. “I walk the halls and know everyone by name and what their favorite nail color is. The children’s hospital is a happier place to me because the nurses have helped me feel at home.”
Since the nail salon opened, Aileen’s tears and fears have been replaced with joy, as well as newfound perseverance because of a lengthy course of treatment that comes with Osteosarcoma.
“Despite having to endure dozens of chemo treatments, she has actually blossomed into our little social butterfly on the floor,” Julie says. “She is an amazing, wonderful girl. I think she has done more for me than I’ve done for her.”
When Aileen was first diagnosed, her dad, Alejandro, took the news especially hard since he recently battled and overcame Leukemia.
“It was really hard because I knew what was ahead of her,” he says. “But we have an incredible thing in Memorial Children’s Hospital. The nurses have done more than we could have hoped for to keep our daughter’s energy and spirits up. MCH keeps kids strong.”
With three more treatments to go, Aileen excitedly anticipates a shopping trip with her family to Mall of America to celebrate an intense cancer journey and her victory over the disease.
Aileen will leave MCH with an experience that has given her more than a nail salon and prizes, but expert care and memories that inspire her to become a pediatric nurse one day.
“I love kids and love being around kids, so I want to become a nurse,” she says. In the meantime, Aileen has a colorful childhood left to enjoy, painting nails along the way.
Please join Memorial Children’s Hospital and your Silver Hawks in cheering on Aileen as she completes her Home Run for Life at Four Winds Field on June 13th . For more information about Memorial Children’s Hospital and Pinwheel Heroes like Aileen, visit qualityoflife.org/childrenshospital .
This article originally appeared on the official website of the South Bend Cubs. Click here to view the original story.