Hospitalization inspired teen’s project

Published 2:08 am Saturday, November 3, 2018

After being hospitalized this past July with pyelonephritis, Andalusia High School senior Madison Long is looking for donations for children 13 to 19 years old at Sacred Heart Hospital as a part of her Be the Change! senior service project.

The assignment requires students to complete projects related to their research topics. The students must volunteer for a cause for eight hours, or raise a minimum of $80, or some combination of the two.

“I was diagnosed with pyelonephritis this past July,” Long said. “There was no one at this hospital to take care of me in pediatrics, so I was sent to Sacred Heart.”

Pyelonephritis is inflammation of the kidney, typically due to a bacterial infection. Long was hospitalized for a week.

While Long was hospitalized she realized that there was nothing there to entertain her.

“They didn’t really have things for kids my age,” Long said. “So my mother and I sat there and talked it out with the lead doctor and head nurses and they thought it would be a good idea to bring Christmas presents down or even just donations for the game room.”

Long still goes every month to Sacred Heart and visits with the friends that she made while in the hospital.

“I have been trying to work my vision out and I get to go down their every month,” Long said. “I get to see a lot of the friends I made while I was there because they are cancer patients and they don’t get to go home much. That was another thing that hit me pretty hard. I was able to meet people that don’t get to go home very much.”

Long said that most of the donations would go to the patients in the oncology wing.

“I don’t get to go into the oncology wing myself,” Long said. “So I would give them drawstring backpacks, so I can pack the bag and the nurses can take it in there to them.”

Though Long doesn’t think that her project is very unique, she said that it still holds a special place in her heart.

“Honestly, I don’t think it is that unique,” Long said. “There are several people that do this like Buckets for Smiles, but this is special to me because Sacred Heart will always hold a special place in my heart. They were so kind and friendly and I know hospitals are supposed to be that way, but they never stopped smiling. They always carried a positive outlook into the rooms. Even when I was having a tough time and felt like I was never getting out of there, they always made it feel like I was at home.”

Since each service project has to be paired with a research paper, Long will be writing hers on cancer patients.

“One of our local heroes that battled cancer was Megan Kelley,” Long said. “The Kelleys will always hold a very special place in my family’s life. Mrs. Donna, Megan’s mother, was my preschool teacher and Megan has been the biggest inspiration to me. She never looked at anything negative; she always held a positive attitude. Her saying, ‘Be kind to everyone, because you never know what they’re going through,’ it really hit me, because you really don’t know what someone may be going through. Especially when I was in the hospital, because I thought my situation was bad, but there were kids in there with terminal diseases.”

Long is especially looking forward to the smiles and reactions from the kids when she drops off the donations.

“I know how tough it was for me and for my family especially financially,” Long said. “It kind of makes you wonder if they are going to get a good Christmas, or if they are going to get anything period.”

For anyone interested in donating to Long’s cause, there will be two drop off points. One at Steamboat and the other at Andalusia High School in Dawn Thompson’s classroom.

Long will be accepting donations until Christmas day.


• New or gently used board games

• New or gently used drawstring backpacks

• New or gently used DVDs

• Uno cards or deck of cards

• Adult coloring books

• Colored pencils

• Markers

• Fuzzy socks

• Fleece blankets, Snuggy

• Beanies for the girls and ball caps for the boys

• New or gently used Xbox games

• Nail polish and nail polish remover

• Cotton swabs and cotton balls

• Little pillows

• Notepads or notebooks

• Journals

• New or gently used stuffed animals

• Pajama pants or spa robe

• Sweatshirts and sweatpants