5-year-old Arianna Koeniger delivers toys to other sick children
Arianna delivers suitcases full of toys to other kids at her Hamilton appointments
With two large purple suitcases in-tow, five-year-old Arianna Koeniger is on a happiness mission.
Diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) when she was four, Arianna spent a lot of time at McMaster Children's Hospital receiving treatment. ALL is a type of cancer affecting the bone marrow, making too many immature lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell.
"I'm going through chemo and I don't like my treatments but I know I have to take them," Arianna said.
Her parents, Shelley Duncan and Daniel Koeniger from Milton, Ont. took turns taking Arianna to her appointments. "She'd keep seeing other families and kids who looked sad…so she asked us if we could buy them a stuffed animal," said Duncan.
With her parents' support, Ari's Angels of Hope was born. Now every week, Arianna loads her suitcases full of toys and delivers them after her appointment.
"I'm not the only one that deserves toys. Other kids deserve toys too because they're sick too," Arianna said. "Things that I got from other people when I was an in-patient made me happy so I started this campaign because I thought doing this campaign would make other kids happy."
I wanted to do this to make other kids happy and feel brave when they're getting their treatments.- Arianna Koeniger, 5
"It keeps her positive in what she's going through, so if it's going to help her through what she's going through then we're going to keep helping her continue it," said Duncan.
When you first meet Arianna, she's seems shy but quickly brightens when asked what she's hoping to achieve by creating her charity.
"I wanted to do this to make other kids happy and feel brave when they're getting their treatments," she said.
Arianna has been in isolation from the public since November 2015. "The good news today is her counts are high because with leukemia, it weakens the immune system…someone could sneeze three feet away from her and she could get sick," said Duncan. "Every week when counts are good, we celebrate."
It means she can visit her school classroom, or go to the grocery store or even see a movie.
"You can't always dwell on the negatives," said Daniel Koeniger. "You've got to pull minor positives out of the negative, and I think what she does on a daily basis. It makes it easier for us to maintain our hope and faith."
While Arianna is only a few months into her treatment program, Duncan predicts that her daughter's positive mind set will go a long way to helping her beat ALL.
"She's just always bubbly and has a happy outlook on things…she's as healthy as she can be despite what's going on. She's doing pretty good so we're just thankful everyday."