In full wardrobe, Ryan Sperl depicted the conductor from “Polar Express.”
Sperl, who is a physician assistant at Texas Oncology-West Texas Cancer Center at Medical Center Hospital, portrayed that role as he helped patients during the third annual Pediatric Oncology Christmas Party Wednesday.
The “Polar Express” theme came from the medical staff and Sperl wanted to give the patients a break from the normal monthly procedures as the West Texas Cancer Center worked in conjunction with West Texas Gifts of Hope for the event.
“These kids have been through a lot and they are still going through a lot sometimes,” Sperl said. “We try to put everyone back into that mentality of being a kid again. If we can make the center a little more fun, it makes it a little bit more fun and enjoyable to go to the doctor.”
The children’s Christmas party included Santa, cookies, punch and gifts for patients. The gifts were purchased by undisclosed donors. Volunteers from West Texas Gifts of Hope helped with refreshments and handed out presents after the patients visited Santa.
Odessa Fire Rescue arrived in their fire truck and brought its mascots Sparky and Freddie. The latter mascot is a remote controlled fire truck that plays music and can talk to the patients.
West Texas Gifts of Hope volunteer Barbara Villaloboz, who has had active cancer twice, said the pediatric oncologist flies in once a month from Dallas to see patients that range up to 20 years old.
“Kids have that eye of wonder and they get to see Santa and for that one afternoon or one morning, it’s not about needles and medicine,” Villaloboz said. “Especially with the theme of ‘Polar Express,’ the spirit of Christmas is in the heart.”
Permian sophomore Zander Aguirre, 16, visited with Santa and they spoke like old friends.
Santa made sure Aguirre was doing well in school, asked about how his cross country and track and field seasons and handed over a present with shiny silver wrapping paper.
Aguirre was diagnosed with Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome at 6 months. He said it’s a genetic disorder that weakens the immune system and detailed patients with Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome typically need a transplant to survive it. Aguirre received a stem cell transplant and has to get a checkup every six months to ensure the donor cells are still supporting his immune system.
“It’s amazing what they are doing here,” Aguirre said about the Pediatric Oncology Christmas Party. “It makes me feel thankful, because I’m really blessed with my condition. I know there are kids with my condition that don’t live the life I live. I’m very blessed to live the life that I’m living now. I know there are kids in and out of the hospital their whole lives.
“It motives me to want to do something for them.”
Source : https://www.oaoa.com/news/local/article_86446c08-f8c9-11e8-b6ea-078b64e9baf6.html506