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Reese Nicholson: A Family Gives Back

When Brian and Amy Nicholson, of Hewitt, Texas, brought their then three-year-old daughter, Reese to the emergency room for what they thought was a urinary tract infection, they got some devastating news. The preschooler had a rare form of kidney cancer.

Although her time spent in surgery and undergoing cancer treatment was difficult, the Nicholsons were able to stay positive through the help and support of their family, friends and Scott & White staff.

Now, five-years-old and 100 percent healthy, Reese and her family wanted to pass the kindness they were shown forward to other families struggling with pediatric cancer.

Having some good come out of a terrible diagnosis

"We wanted to do something specifically for the pediatric cancer families that would be practical and helpful during their own journey," Amy Nicholson said. "Brian and I thought about what was one of the greatest gifts we received during Reese's treatment, and we realized gift cards were a huge help to us."

Although the Nicholsons knew that gift cards wouldn’t take away all of the stress and medical bills, they could help with immediate needs that families could no longer afford.

"Our idea was to collect gift cards that could pay for gas, groceries, meals, birthday gifts and just cash that families needed in their pocket for emergencies," Mrs. Nicholson said. "We also felt this was a tangible way for our family, friends and community to contribute in an easy, practical way that would also make them aware of these other families fighting pediatric cancer."

The family decided that they would begin asking for gift card donations in September, which is Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month.

"I suggested we make flyers to put on our neighbors’ doors and then make cookies for whoever gave us a gift card," said Reese’s older sister, Brooke, 7.

Their campaign worked. Over 20 of their neighbors donated gift cards, which turned into a lot of Fun Fetti cookies baked by Reese, Brooke and younger sister, Mallory, 3.

By the end of the month, the Nicholsons had collected 165 ($25) gift cards.

The girls and their parents delivered baskets of gift cards to the oncology clinic at the new children’s hospital, along with toys Reese and her sisters had purchased with their own money for the new playrooms.

"For us, it has always been about having some good come out of our daughter’s terrible diagnosis," Mrs. Nicholson said. "Nothing will be worth what she had to endure, but we do not want to waste the lessons we learned on our own journey."

The Nicholsons and their daughters hope their donation will bring a little light and some holiday cheer to the families dealing with pediatric cancer.

And Reese has a message for the children who are undergoing treatment this Christmas: "I’m sorry you’re in the hospital, but Merry Christmas."

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Reese Nicholson: A precautionary trip to the local urgent care facility changed a toddler’s life