At the age of seven, Walker Beery was diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive pediatric brain cancer, medulloblastoma. Throughout surgeries, hospital stays, and multiple radiation and chemotherapy treatments, Walker’s courage and gratitude amazed his family, his medical community, and all who encountered him during the fight for his life.
A gift of a teddy bear from a fellow cancer patient given to comfort Walker in the hospital made Walker’s "nose burn". When Walker would tell his father that his “nose burns” it was their code for happy tears. The overwhelming feeling of this small gift from someone living a similar experience encouraged Walker to want to give back to others as well.
Replicating that "nose burning" feeling
Walker’s relentless desire to replicate that “nose burning” feeling by helping other children battling cancer inspired Kids Join the Fight, a movement to tap into the superpowers of children and empower them to raise money to help other kids fighting pediatric cancer. The money raised by Kids Join the Fight funds global research for pediatric cancer and provides local support services and care so desperately needed by pediatric cancer patients and their families – all while teaching the next generation of fundraisers the feeling of gratitude associated with giving back to their communities.
The desire to help
Throughout this journey, the Beery family has learned the sad reality that children only represent 4% of overall cancer research funding in the United States. This statistic is staggering and a harsh reality for so many. With only three new drugs approved for pediatric cancer treatment since 1980, the children who survive their childhood cancer are destined to have long-term effects from the toxins used to treat them.
The joyful strength that Walker brought to his relentless battle against pediatric brain cancer coupled with his desire to help other children in the same position is the inspiration for the child-centered, creative fundraising efforts of Kids Join the Fight.
About Children's Hospital New Orleans
At Children's Hospital New Orleans, our promise is to shape a healthier, happier future for kids, and we believe that kids should be kids, even when they are sick. As Louisiana's first and largest children's hospital, we've delivered expert healthcare for children across our state and region for more than 65 years.
With a recently completed $300 million campus transformation, Children's Hospital provides unmatched pediatric expertise, with state-of-the-art facilities that now match the level of care we've been known for from the beginning - along with an unmatched patient and family experience.
Each year, Children's Hospital is proud to care for children from all 64 parishes in Louisiana, from across the Gulf South, and beyond. Part of the Children's Hospital New Orleans approach to care is treating all children and only children in a healing, family-centered environment that allows kids to be kids. We know that when caring for a child, we are in turn, caring for the whole family. Over the last five years, we have made significant investments in the patient and family experience, including building robust Child Life and Creative Therapeutic programs. The Children's Hospital team strives every day to make the hospital feel less like a hospital, and more like an environment where kids and families can be themselves, relax, and play.
The Child Life Difference
Pediatric care is about so much more than caring for little adults. Children have special needs and unique ways of processing information. An important program that sets a children’s hospital apart is its Child Life Program. This department, comprised of Child Life and Creative Therapists, is a service not billed to patient families or insurance providers, but is an essential team that makes all the difference when it comes to enhancing the child’s experience. Child Life helps children cope through their hospital experience and helps them understand treatments and procedures in a way they can understand. In our campus transformation, special care was taken to create a dedicated space to house this integral program.
Walker's Imaginarium will amplify the great work our Child Life and Creative Therapies team does each and every day to help kids and families cope with their hospital stays. The Imaginarium not only provides a therapeutic space for patients and families to enjoy time as a family together while in the hospital, but it will also give them a place where they can thrive and find joy.