By Jen Lutz, Friendship ChampionAn afternoon of game after game of Uno is a surefire way to become fast friends with someone new. Well, at least that’s how it happened with 13 year old Lacey.
Initially, Lacey seemed shy and reluctant to spend time with me. Nonetheless, in hopes of breaking the ice, I asked her if she’d like to play a game of Uno and that was practically all it took. From there, things quickly got competitive and full of giggles.
We began trash talking and victory dancing, as any good Uno players should. Toward the end of our afternoon, I told Lacey about Connecting Champions and the work we do. I finished my explanation by asking Lacey what she’d like to be when she grows up. Lacey shrugged and said, “I don’t know.” I offered some suggestions and Lacey simply shrugged again. So then it was my turn to do some thinking.
I realized that perhaps Lacey didn’t need a role model as far as a future occupation, but maybe she needed some new friends and something to look forward to during her lengthy stays in the hospital. I asked Lacey if it would be okay if I brought some fun people with me the next time I visited. Lacey quickly agreed to that idea.
Shortly thereafter, I introduced Lacey to Erica and Caroline. They are two incredibly fun, energetic, and hilarious nursing students from The University of Pittsburgh. Erica and Caroline are strong Uno players, but that isn’t all they have in common with Lacey.
The girls love to chit-chat about all things pop culture and so does Lacey. Since their first meeting they’ve spent hours talking, sharing their opinions, and giggling about movies, books, television shows, award shows, and YouTube videos. Often, Erica retells and even reenacts many of the fun things she sees on television for Lacey and, of course, lots more giggling occurs.
According to Lacey’s family and nurses, when a visit with Erica and Caroline is planned, she makes sure everyone knows she will be busy with her friends that day. Also, when hospital staff comes into Lacey’s room while the girls are visiting their typical reaction is, “Whoa, looks like a party is going on in here!” With so many smiles and so much giggling, undoubtedly, when the three of these girls are together it feels like a party!