How it started...
Starlit HOPE was created by Gabby Devine in February 2013. Gabby had been diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma (a rare type of bone cancer) in February 2012 and spent a year of intensive chemotherapy, radiation and major surgery to remove remaining tumour. During this time she had many months at Starship and New Plymouth hospital.
Gabby and her family were lucky enough to for a weeks holiday to House of Karen. The House of Karen provides a cancer families to have a well deserved holiday. While we were there Gabby read a brochure about House of Karen and found out it was established because Karen went through cancer treatment and the family wanted to give back. That moment began Gabby thinking that since she had completed cancer treatment she would like to do something similar to help oncology kids in their cancer journey and so Starlit HOPE was born.
Gabby made up the name Starlit HOPE because Star is from Starship and lit is light up peoples day by random acts of kindness and Hope is that eventually there will be a cure for cancer and that Starlit HOPE won’t be necessary.
When Gabby created Starlit HOPE she decided it’s aim should be doing random acts of kindness for oncology children and also some random acts of kindness for the parents and occasionally the oncology staff. As part of doing random acts of kindness Gabby wanted a major part of the Starlit HOPE random act of kindness to be providing oncology kids in hospital with boredom boxes. She wanted each box to be very special and personalized to each oncology child. Each box would contain seven presents so the oncology child would have present to open each day for a week. Gabby hoped that this would relieve some of the boredom for kids who are stuck in hospital that she had experienced.
Even tho Gabby’s had a cancer relapse about six months after treatment finished she still wanted to continue with her Starlit HOPE and in fact the relapse made Gabby’s love of her Starlit HOPE grow as whenever she went for treatment she wanted to do a random act of kindness. She would arrive at Starship for a days worth of chemotherapy and the staff would ask her why she would bring a huge suitcase and they soon realised it was because the suitcase was loaded of wrapped presents to give all the kids in clinic and on the ward.
Since Starlit HOPE has started Gabby has given out hundreds of random acts of kindness. Her random acts of kindness have included many presents deliveries to Starship oncology ward and clinic, helium balloon delivery to Starship oncology ward, lots of boredom boxes, care packages to parents with children in oncology ward, mothers day gifts to all mothers on the ward, Christmas box of presents for children on ward at Starship and New Plymouth hospital, christmas breakfast for the parents. Gabby is passionate about providing random acts of kindness to child and parents on the oncology ward during celebrations such as Easter and Christmas. She thinks it is so important to put a smile on their faces when they are stuck in hospital during these times.
On Gabby’s 13th birthday on the 9th March 2015 Gabby achieved her goal for Starlit HOPE and that was that it would reach each child oncology hospital in New Zealand. For her birthday she provided presents to all the child on oncology wards at Starship, Christchurch, Wellington as well as the regional hospitals she currently supports, New Plymouth and Palmerston North.
Gabby’s vision for Starlit HOPE is that it continues to grow and that it is able to put smiles on as many oncology child and families faces.