What would you say if someone asked you about your favorite Christmas memory? I know I have lots of great memories of Christmas as a kid, but this year I find myself thinking of a Christmas Eve just ten years ago.
As we pulled into our quiet suburban neighborhood in the early evening, driveways were lined with glowing candles in paper bags. This was no ordinary Christmas Eve, full of our usual family traditions. Instead, the candles illuminating our neighborhood that night were in honor of 12-year-old Hope Stout, who was fighting for her life as she battled a rare form of bone cancer.
We parked our car and made our way to the Stuart and Shelby Stout’s home, where more than 150 people had gathered to pray for a miracle for their daughter. Although Hope was too frail to come outside and join us, the front door was ajar so she could hear her candle-holding neighbors offer prayers and sing “Silent Night” and other carols.
Sadly, Hope didn’t get the miracle we prayed for that night. She went to her heavenly home on January 4, not even two weeks after our Christmas Eve prayer vigil.
However, the story of Hope and her family didn’t end there. When approached by the Make-a-Wish Foundation and asked to make a final wish, Hope had told them her wish was to grant the wishes of the 155 other kids on their list. She had mentioned this in an interview with local radio host Keith Larson, and the idea went viral, touching thousands of people with the beauty of Hope’s selfless wish.
One of the people in our chilly Christmas Eve gathering had been Kevin Donnelly, a member of the Carolina Panthers. With Kevin’s help, Hope’s story was featured on nationwide TV at halftime during a Panthers game. Hope’s picture was flashed on the JumboTron screen at the game, resulting in a flood of donations to Make-a-Wish.
Since then, the Stout family has created MarchForthWithHope.com to bring comfort and financial assistance to other kids and families that are facing terminal illnesses. They’ve raised more than three million dollars to help these kids, and an inspirational movie is being produced about Hope’s amazing legacy.
You see, Hope’s story is far from over. And you can read all about it in Keith Larson’s new book, That Season of Hope
Read more from Mary Blubaugh, Lifestyle RN, on her blog