Kids Surprised With 70,000 Valentines at Hospital

Jennifer O'Neill
·Writer
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Photo: Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

Most people hope they’ll receive one special valentine on Feb. 14. The kids in treatment for lifelong cardiac conditions at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) received 70,000. 

Valentine’s Day cards poured in for the 54 children being treated for heart-related problems who couldn’t go home to celebrate the holiday with their families. Each patient received 1,300 handwritten, bejeweled, colorfully decorated love notes. 

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Photo: Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

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The sweet sentiments like “You inspire me to be strong” and “You are loved!” were unveiled at the Sibley Heart Center in the Georgia hospital on Friday for the kids who were strong enough to make it down to see the display. 

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Photo: Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta 

“It’s the most…I don’t know what to say,” Scott Reese, father of 9-year-old patient Bronco, tells Yahoo Parenting. “You can tell as soon as they come around the corner and see the stuff, it puts a smile on their faces. It’s really exciting to see that.” His son, awaiting his second heart transplant at the hospital, checked out the floor-to-ceiling assemblage of cards and instantly got a boost from the outpouring of love. “It makes a difference in his attitude while he’s here,” says Reese. “It makes a big difference.” 

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That’s exactly what CHOA organizers were hoping for when they put out the call for cards to schools throughout Georgia last month. Local radio stations urged people to send cards, too. CHOA’s goal was 1,000 cards, but it received 20,000 from schools alone. In fact, so many cards flooded in to one radio station collection center, that the car dealership where it held the event had to loan organizers a truck to carry the notes. Nearly a dozen do-gooders were recruited to play Cupid at the hospital on Friday, setting up displays and delivering cards to patients rooms throughout the day. 

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Photo: Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta 

“A lot of these cardiac patients have to spend extended periods at the hospital, and we knew they’d be missing their classroom Valentine’s parties,” Chrissie Gallentine, a CHOA spokeswoman, tells Yahoo Parenting. “We all remember being kids and how important it is for them to pass out cards and share that so we wanted to do something special for them, as well as let the community know about these inspiring kids. They’re such brave, phenomenal people.” 

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Photo: Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta 

And the best part of receiving 70 times the number of cards expected is that the hospital can spread the love around. “We have so many notes that we can say to everyone, ‘Grab a handful!” says Gallentine, who adds that she was “blown away” by the kindness she saw in those cards. “What kids were saying to encourage the other kids was amazing.” 

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Photo: Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta 

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