Young Cancer Patients Receive Cookies, Hats, Orange Ukuleles

Need a smile? Strum a ukulele.

As comedian/singer Scout Durwood could melodically confirm, “Sad songs are inappropriate when you sing them on the ukulele.”

That makes the small instruments not only appropriate for tip-toeing through the tulips but also for eliciting smiles from young patients in the cancer ward.

“Ukuleles are fun for all ages, just envision young patients and parents strumming a tune on their brand-new bright orange ukulele, filling the hospital hallways with light-hearted strums and laughter,” said Annette Leslie.

In 2010, she founded the Carson Leslie Foundation in memory of her son, who lost his battle with brain cancer that year and asked her to “help the next kid.”

The foundation has offered young cancer patients highly-anticipated red-carpet outings supported by the Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Cowboys and patient parties in Carson’s Corner, the teen room the foundation built on the oncology floor at Children’s Health, Dallas.

But the pandemic required a new approach – Hearts of GOLD hootenannies.

At least once a month, CLF delivers a hootenanny of surprises to the hospital room of each child battling cancer at Children’s Health, Leslie said. “It’s absolute joy to hand out smiles and spread a little joy to some really sick kids who don’t have much to smile about.”

Hootenanny partners include SMU fraternities and sororities, The Covenant School of Dallas, and National Charity League, plus volunteers from Greenhill School, Shelton, Episcopal School of Dallas, Toys Unique, private law firms, real-estate companies, Sugar Social, Young Men Service League, and the You’ve Got Mail Club at Ursuline Academy.

Texas-themed March gifts included cowboy hats. April will bring paint-your-own Easter Bunny cookies and giant stuffed Easter bunnies.

The orange instruments arrived in February with heart-shaped cookies. As George Strait might croon, “I got a little ukulele, let me sing you a song.”

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William Taylor

William Taylor, editor of Park Cities People and Preston Hollow People, shares a name and a birthday with his dad and a love for community journalism with his colleagues at People Newspapers. He joined the staff in 2016 after more than 25 years working for daily newspapers in such places as Alexandria, Louisiana; Baton Rouge; McKinney; San Angelo; and Sherman, though not in anywhere near that order. A city manager once told him that “city government is the best government” because of its potential to improve the lives of its residents. William still enjoys covering municipal government and many other topics. Follow him on Twitter @Seminarydropout. He apologizes in advance to the Joneses for any angry Tweets that might slip out about the Dallas Cowboys during the NFL season. You also can reach him at [email protected]. For the latest news, click here to sign up for our newsletter.

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