Although 16-year-old Kelsey Conroy created a theme reminscent of the board game Clue for the fundraiser she coordinated to support the MassGeneral Hospital for Children's (MGHfC) Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Center, the high school student was not playing games. Three years ago, Conroy's then 2-year-old sister Mary was diagnosed with an ependymoma – a rare and aggressive brain tumor – and underwent treatment at the MGHfC, where she received chemotherapy and proton beam therapy at the Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center. Tragically, despite initially responding well to treatment, Mary succumbed to the illness Jan. 22, 2007.
Conroy, a student at Marshfield High School, knew she wanted to do something to help fulfill what she describes as her "personal goal to help out the hospital and the fight against cancer as much as I can in honor of Mary." Her school's annual Student Council Lock-In, an overnight leadership workshop held in partnership with other area schools, provided her with the perfect opportunity. At the beginning of her sophomore year, she approached the Marshfield High School Student Council Executive Board with her idea to give the event a game theme and collect board games to donate to the MGHfC.
A LOVING DONATION: Conroy, second from right, and her family delivered more than 300 board games and toys to the MGHfC.
"Cancer affects the entire family, not just the child being treated," says Conroy. "Hopefully by having the toys and games patients will be able to play with their families like they normally would at home."
After collecting more than 300 board games, Conroy, along with her parents and five brothers and sisters, brought the items to the Ellison 17 playroom on Aug. 6 for pediatric patients and their families to enjoy.
"We owe the MGHfC the world ... Mary's fight was definitely easier, knowing that we had the hospital staff taking care of her," says Conroy. "They became and still are a big part of our family. So, to all the nurses and doctors who took care of Mary and our family, we thank you. We love you guys."