Student brings ‘bags of happiness’ to PVH rehab patients

11-year-old student chooses to bring care packages to rehab patients as his ‘Thompson Kids Can Change the World’ grant project.
August 30th, 2018

Charlie Wond walked into the rehabilitation unit at UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital dressed in a blue suit with a red tie and polka-dot pocket square — a very professional look for an 11-year-old. He carried gift bags containing a rainbow of flowers bursting from the tops. His sister, Charlotte, 9, and his mom, Annabel, walked alongside, also carrying gift bags.

Charlie and his family unload care packages from their care.
From left, Annabel Wond, her son, Charlie, and daughter, Charlotte, unload care packages from their car to take into UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital on July 28, 2018. Photos by Kati Blocker, UCHealth.

Charlie had assembled the care packages himself. They included silk flowers, an adult coloring book, a stuffed animal and Charlie’s favorite: a word finder book. On a Friday morning, the dapper young man delivered a bag to each of the patients at the rehabilitation unit, which moved last month from UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies to its new space on the third floor of PVH.

“My grandpa was in the rehab unit in Santa Fe, and we always went to visit him,” Charlie explained to each patient. “I saw the other people there, and I wanted to make them happy, too.”

Although he couldn’t do that in Santa Fe, Charlie got an opportunity to do it in his own community through the Thompson School District’s “Thompson Kids Can Change the World” contest.

Charlie and his sister talk with a patient in her room.
Charlie Wond, center, talks with Diana Berry, a recently retired school counselor from Arkansas who was recovering from a stroke at UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital rehabilitation unit.

Students submit a plan as to how they would change the world. One winner is picked from applicants in kindergarten through fifth grade, and another from the sixth through 12th grade. Each winner gets $250 to implement the idea, assistance connecting with a business to help, and a featured story about them on Thompsonschools.org/ChangeTheWorld.

On that Friday in the rehab unit, Diana Berry, a recently retired school counselor, was preparing to head back to her home in Arkansas the next day. She had been visiting Colorado when she had a stroke. Berry hit it off with Charlie and Charlotte, and their mom Annabel, who is a special education teacher, right off the bat.

“This has really made my trip,” she told Charlie, looking through the bag of goodies. She said she was excited to have something new to do on her trip home.

A patient laughs with charlie and his family.
From left, Todd Heeren, Annabel Wond, Charlotte Wond and Charlie Wond, laugh together. Charlie had given Heeren a care package that included a deck of card, to which Heeren told his physical therapist that she was going to lose some money. The care packages were part of a grant that Charlie got through Thompson School District.

Charlie also met Todd Heeren, who was starting his rehab session for the day in the unit’s gym.

“Finally, something to do besides watch Shark Week,” he joked. Finding the deck of playing cards in the bag, he looked to his physical therapist and said, “You’ll be losing some money soon.”

The four discussed school, as Heeren has three children who are about Charlie’s age.

Charlie just finished fifth grade at Coyote Ridge Elementary and has now started middle school.

It was important that he delivered the packages, and it brought up those memories of visiting his grandfather, he said.

“I thought it was more personal than delivering them like an Amazon package,” he said, adding that he thinks that he can change the world with this project.

“It made me very happy to be able to do this, and I felt that it made a positive impact on those patients,” he said.

Whether or not the project will change the world, Charlie plans to.

“I want to do more community service as I get older, and make people happy,” he said.

Where does he want to volunteer? A hospital, of course.

About the author

Kati Blocker has always been driven to learn and explore the world around her. And every day, as a writer for UCHealth, Kati meets inspiring people, learns about life-saving technology, and gets to know the amazing people who are saving lives each day. Even better, she gets to share their stories with the world.

As a journalism major at the University of Wyoming, Kati wrote for her college newspaper. She also studied abroad in Swansea, Wales, while simultaneously writing for a Colorado metaphysical newspaper.

After college, Kati was a reporter for the Montrose Daily Press and the Telluride Watch, covering education and health care in rural Colorado, as well as city news and business.

When she's not writing, Kati is creating her own stories with her husband Joel and their two young children.