Grieving family turns sorrow into hope - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Grieving family turns sorrow into hope

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Posted: Friday, June 2, 2006 11:27 am | Updated: 2:34 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

After the death of their beloved son and grandson, a Mesa family have turned their grief into a foundation to help other children.

Banner Children’s Hospital at Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa will receive a $22,000 donation today from Blake’s Miracle Foundation to help fund a new pediatric pain management program.

“We can’t help Blake, but we can help others,” said Lana Whitehead, Blake’s grandmother.

Blake Whitehead was a healthy, red-headed 21-monthold boy when he began throwing up blood on Christmas Day.

He was diagnosed with leukemia, and spent a couple months at Banner Children’s Hospital undergoing chemotherapy, four surgeries and several other procedures. This all happened to a little boy who loved choo-choo trains, pizza and the outdoors.

“He went from being very vibrant to having no strength at all,” Lana Whitehead said. “It was absolutely devastating.”

Although Blake’s parents, Brandon and Kelle Whitehead, wished for a miracle, Blake died just three months later on March 8, three weeks away from his second birthday.

Soon after he died, the Whitehead family started Blake’s Miracle Foundation, which is all about children helping children.

One month after Blake’s death, close to 200 children swam their hearts out at a swim-a-thon at SWIMkids USA in Mesa to raise money for the foundation. SWIMkids USA is an indoor swimming and gymnastics center for kids six months to 12 years old that Lana Whitehead owns and Blake used to swim at.

Kids 18 months to 11 years old either swam and floated, or did laps to raise the $22,000 that is being donated to the Mesa hospital. Some of the older children swam more than 350 laps, while some of the younger kids floated in the pool as long as 46 minutes, Lana Whitehead said.

They also collected three truckloads of toys, worth an estimated $3,500. The toys were donated to Banner Children’s Hospital for Andrea’s Closet, which allows children to pick out a toy for comfort while in the hospital.

After Blake’s death the Whitehead family found out about pediatric pain management, which incorporates hypnotherapy, massage, psychology and guided imagery to help children.

A pain management program would have helped Blake handle his pain better instead of pumping him with drugs, Lana Whitehead said.

“If I were Blake, and I could tell you something I wanted to get rid of, it would be pain,” she said.

Good Deed submissions

Do you have a good deed you would like featured? Tell us about it. Include your name, city and phone number, and send it to hringle@aztrib.com. Blake’s Miracle Foundation

To learn more, visit www.blakesmiracle.org or call (480) 820-9109

• Monetary donations can be made for the foundation at any Wells Fargo Bank.

• The Phoenix Mercury is hosting a Blake’s Miracle night 6:30 p.m. Aug. 8 at the US Airways Arena. Game tickets, T-shirts, wristbands and pregame raffle tickets are available at SWIMkids USA, 2725 W. Guadalupe Road, Mesa, until July 17.

• New, unwrapped toys for Andrea’s Closet can also be dropped off in the SWIMkids lobby.

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