Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Motivated by Love,
Hope for Henry Foundation Spreads Joy

With a kindness obviously motivated by the experience of knowing and loving their son Henry Strongin Goldberg, Allen Goldberg and Laurie Strongin walked through the doors of Georgetown University Hospital’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in December with great numbers of the latest must-have electronic gadgets in tow to distribute to Lombardi’s youngest and most ill patients.

Funding for the gifts came from the Hope for Henry Foundation (HFHF), a 501(c)(3) organization established by Goldberg, Strongin and friends to honor the life of Henry, who died in 2002 at the age of seven from Fanconi anemia. The rare, fatal genetic disease affects children and adults from all ethnic backgrounds. Lombardi’s Pediatric Hematology-Oncology division was among the many hospital settings where Henry received treatment during his short life.

For the Strongin-Goldberg family, creating the Foundation and now ensuring that monies raised through the Foundation go to better the lives of children who find themselves in a health crisis similar to Henry’s is one way to honor their son.

“The Foundation reaches out to children and families spending far too much time in hospitals to improve their day-today life by providing carefully chosen gifts designed to bring comfort and entertainment,” said Strongin. “Our goal is to bring smiles and laughter, hope and magic into the lives of these children and families who need it most.”

Henry was a delightfully charming child. “[Henry] taught his family, friends, doctors and all who came in contact with him how to live well and laugh hard - even as he battled a terrible disease. Henry embraced each opportunity for living completely and reminded the rest of us to do so.”

Aziza Shad, MD, chief of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, was among those who treated Henry, and she echoed that description of Henry. “The sparkle in Henry’s eyes and his cheerfulness could always brighten my day,” said Dr. Shad with a smile.

In a formal presentation made prior to the gift distribution, Goldberg said, “One thing I remember about being here [at Lombardi] is that everyone who passed by Henry said what a lucky guy he was for always having a DVD player with him.” While candidly admitting that his son actually “was the luckiest unlucky guy,” Goldberg added that “Henry lives on through this Foundation.”

Henry’s determination to find fun in any situation was, in part, what motivated the Strongin-Goldberg family to make HFHF’s first charitable gifts ones that would make sick children’s daily lives more endurable and – maybe – even enjoyable.

During a presentation to Lombardi, Strongin, Goldberg, family members and friends distributed gifts to some of Lombardi’s most ill children, giving each child the opportunity to choose their preference of a portable DVD or MP3 players, digital cameras and Gameboy® players. The Foundation also donated four computers, fully equipped with a selection of software, that now sit in the common area of the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology outpatient clinic.

“We’re pleased to be able to share some of Henry’s magic [with Lombardi’s Pediatric Hematology/Oncology division],” said Strongin. Added Goldberg, “As many smiles as we can produce is what is important to us.”

Undoubtedly the Foundation’s efforts will give many ill children the opportunity to better enjoy their days in the future – keeping in line with and celebrating the way Henry Strongin Goldberg chose to live his life.

—R. Christoferson

No comments: