You are loved. You are brave. You’re MY inspiration.
These are just some of the words of support and love that young heart patients at an Atlanta children’s hospital got to see this week, penned on tens of thousands of Valentine’s Day cards that were made specially for them by strangers across the city.
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta recently partnered with radio station 104.7 The Fish to appeal to local schools and organizations to make and send Valentine’s Day cards to the children in their care who have congenital heart disease.
“To celebrate February Heart Month, we wanted to do something special for our amazing cardiac kids,” hospital spokesperson Caroline Gallentine told The Huffington Post on Friday. “Our cardiac patients often have to spend extended periods of time in the hospital, which means they sometimes have to miss holidays. The kids who are in the hospital today had to miss their Valentine’s Day parties at school, so we thought it would be meaningful to bring the valentines to them.”
Never could the hospital have imagined, however, just what an overwhelming response they would get.
People all over the city -- young and old -- did their part, creating special Valentine’s Day cards for the children.
— Rally Foundation (@RallyFoundation) February 11, 2015
— GT SAAB (@GTSAAB) February 9, 2015
— abby_hooper (@AAfitz506) February 6, 2015
— Angie (@acaymol) February 4, 2015
— Haylee (@hayleenoel_) February 4, 2015
— Eman Towfik (@mstowfik) February 2, 2015
Gallentine told HuffPost that the hospital had hoped to receive “a couple thousand valentines.”
In the end, the children received a whopping 70,000.
“What we received truly blew us away,” Gallentine said. “This exceeded our wildest expectations. But we are so excited by the number, because it means that 70,000 people were thinking about our incredible heart kids, and they deserve recognition.”
These are kids who must manage lifelong cardiac conditions, Gallentine said. “We call our cardiac patients ‘heartstrong’ because they are brave, determined and compassionate. They inspire us every day, so we are happy that we got to share the inspiration with everyone who participated in sending them cards.”
On Friday, the children were surprised with the valentines. Many of them were “overwhelmed” and awed by the incredible collection, Gallentine said.
(Story continues below)
Ultimately, the hospital says that it hopes the valentine surprise will buoy the spirits of their young patients.
“We hope they feel the love and support of the community,” Gallentine said. “The messages in the cards were so sweet and encouraging. They said things like ‘stay strong,’ ‘be brave’ and ‘you inspire me.’ We hope that after receiving dozens of these messages, it will sink in that they inspire others to be brave and strong, too.”