MARION -- Most people have good intentions. They recognize a problem and consider how they could help. People often wish to make a difference. Unfortunately, it usually stops there.
Two Marion girls, however, saw a need and took action. As a result, hundreds of patients at Shriner's Hospital for Children in St. Louis will receive new toys as they undergo medical treatment.
Hadley Holmes, 6, knows firsthand what it is like to be an orthopedic patient at Shriner's Hospital. She has dealt with the pain of three broken bones over the span of 18 months.
Marion pediatrician, Dr. Jennifer Alexander, recommended that parents Kevin and Connie seek treatment for their daughter at a metabolic research center.
Numerous tests have been performed to try to determine the cause of Hadley's condition, and theories include a vitamin D deficiency, or osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease. She will return to St. Louis in November to repeat a bone density test.
Hadley and friend, Gracie West, 10, are extremely close, and attend Pittsburg Free Will Baptist Church with their families.
With the support of Hadley's mom, Connie, and Gracie's mother, Marybeth Davie, the girls decided to raise money with a lemonade stand as a way of giving back to the hospital they feel has provided such great care.
Their idea of turning lemons into lemonade resulted in a profit of $1,280, after only two days of work on Fair Street. Next came the purchase of hundreds of toys for Shriner patients.
A small crowd gathered last Friday night to attend the lively celebration at the Williamson County Shrine Club, where the toy donation was on display and a special dinner was served.
Hadley's sponsor, Pat Sampler, remembered how impressed he was by the way the little girl handled her hospitalization. He recalled that Hadley had been given a doll and a game, which proved an enjoyable distraction.
"The night before, Hadley was very nervous, but after a week, she didn't want to leave because it is very child-oriented."
President Kenneth George praised Hadley and Gracie for their contributions, and was overwhelmed by the success of their venture.
"This is definitely unusual. A couple of years ago we had kids collect cans to raise money for the hospital, but there's been nothing of this magnitude."
Director of Development for Shriner's Hospitals for Children, Terri Andrews, was on hand to transport the trove of toys to St. Louis. She gave a PowerPoint presentation and expressed her gratitude toward Gracie and Hadley.
"I'm always amazed at how giving kids can be," she said. "They learned that from their family and their community. It's an awesome thing."
Andrews explained that Shriners Hospitals for Children is a nonprofit hospital, which provides care regardless of the ability to pay. The system has treated 1.3 million children as a whole, and operates 22 orthopedic and burn centers throughout the United States, Mexico, and Canada. It was founded in 1922.
Gracie loves Hadley like a sister, and was overcome with emotion when asked to explain why she wanted to help.
"I just wanted to donate to Hadley's Shriners hospital," Gracie said, through tears, as she sat with her mother at a big round table in the Shrine Hall.
Hadley appeared to take all of the fuss in stride, modestly accepting the compliments, already aware that two small girls can make a big difference.
"We raised money for Shriners," Hadley said. "We raised money and got toys. Me, mom, and Gracie had fun."