Gabby bringing cheer to kids in hospitals

Girl starts charity to put a smile on sick kids' faces

HELEN HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 18/07/2014
Gabby Devine
CHARLOTTE CURD/FAIRFAX NZ

ALL ABOUT SMILES: Gabby Devine, 12, back home with her dog Abby, is making sure children with cancer get lots of treats.

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Gabby Devine, 12, knows what it's like to be stuck in a cancer ward day after day with nothing to do.

Last year she was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma and spent more than half the year at Starship hospital, earning more than 600 beads of courage along the way. The worst bit wasn't the 43 days of chemo or the 31 straight days of radiation treatment, Gabby said.

"Hospital is boring. And sometimes you're in . . . one room and no kids are allowed to see you."

She got a lot of presents though, so she is now giving presents to other children.

Gabby has started her own charity, Starlit Hope, and sends goodie bags and boredom packs containing toys and activities, to children in the oncology wards at Starship and Taranaki Base Hospital.

And since her surgery, when she had four ribs and a quarter of one lung removed, she is keen to extend them to children in surgery wards as well.

Gabby, who is in year 8 at Sacred Heart Girls' College in New Plymouth, started her "random acts of kindness" at Easter, she said. "We did Easter baskets for oncology kids and their families in New Plymouth and made bunnies for Starship."

Now Gabby's giving is about to grow big time thanks to her neighbour Sally Vanner and TSB Bank. Vanner entered TSB's Wish for the Perfect Day competition. While others wished for holidays, Vanner asked for $1500 for Gabby's Starlit Hope. TSB gave Gabby the money and also pledged 30 limited-edition As Kiwi As bags, drink bottles and bags of lollies to kickstart a few more goodie bags.

Gabby has started a Facebook page, Starlit Hope, and people have been donating toys for the boredom packs.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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