Yesterday I went to Phoenix Children’s Hospital to hang out with some of the kids during their monthly “Birthday Party.” I got a chance to take some pictures and sign some autographs, and it was fun. The toughest part was seeing some of the kids so drained and tired and sad, and not really being able to do anything about it.

One kid in particular stood out to me. Her name was Madelyn. Madelyn had just come downstairs from her room. She had just had surgery that day and was still feeling the effects of the anesthesia. I could empathize with her. Madelyn’s parents rolled her wheelchair over to me and she slowly got out of her chair and sat next to me. Madelyn was tired.

I felt a special bond with Madelyn and it was almost as if I could feel her pain. I knew what she was going through, so I spent more time with her than I did with some of the other kids. I told her a little bit about my injury¬†and how bad it hurt when it happened. I encouraged her with the fact that just like me, she was gonna feel better soon. After some talking, Madelyn and I took a picture. I didn’t realize the significance of that picture until after the fact.

At the very end of the visit, after all the kids had left, Madelyn’s mom came up to me with tears in her eyes and explained how much it meant for me to actually spend time with her daughter and how much it meant to see her daughter smile in our picture. “Smiles are contagious,” I told her. “So the more Madelyn smiles the better.”

I felt for Madelyn’s parents. I knew how much they were sacrificing to make sure their child was doing OK. As I left the hospital, I couldn’t stop thinking about Mady and her family. I kept thinking of ways to bless them. Ways to take some of the pressure off and ease some of the heartache. I turned around.

I had figured it out. What better way to bless someone who is struggling than to give them food! People had given me food during the first part of my injury, so I figured I’d keep the tradition alive. I drove around to find the perfect meal for her parents, along with a smoothie for Mady since she probably hadn’t eaten too much. This was one of the best feelings in the world. To actually suffer WITH someone. To be able to relieve some of their pain and make life a little bit easier on them. I returned to the hospital and was escorted up to Mady’s room.

When I walked in, her dad was asleep on the couch (similar to my dad during my injury) and her mom was resting in the chair. They woke Mady up and we got to give her the smoothie. She was smiling from ear to ear. That personality that was missing in the room downstairs had finally reappeared! Her mom and dad couldn’t have been more grateful as well. They thanked me for coming back, and her mom gave me a big hug.

Mady made my day, and it was all because I turned around.