Will’s Way: A family gives back

When faced with a tragic situation, a mother’s love and passion helps advance her son’s legacy. William Day spent more than 150 days at the N.C. Children’s Hospital over the course of his life. His mother, Beth Day, shares more about their care experience and how she and her family are giving back to our patients and families in Will’s memory.

Will’s Way: A family gives back click to enlarge William Day

Will’s Way: A family gives back

By the young age of five, William Day had touched more lives across the world than most people will in a lifetime. Many of those lives walk the halls every day at N.C. Children’s Hospital, where Will spent more than 150 days over the course of his life, many of those in intensive care.

Shortly after Will was born, it was discovered that he had a multi-cystic kidney and epilepsy. Eventually, Will began to have difficulty swallowing and breathing. His mother, Beth Day, says that through all the tests, procedures and intensive care stays, the UNC Children’s physicians and staff became an extended family.

“UNC Children’s has meant so much to us,” Beth says. “From nurses to doctors to physical and occupational therapists to everyone who was in and out of our care while we were there – the way we were cared for was so wonderful.”

Beth says she felt like the providers and staff at the hospital truly knew Will and her family, and did everything they could to make each hospital stay a little brighter.

“Will was never in the hospital over Christmas, but he was there on Easter one year,” Beth says. “He got so many Easter baskets and bunnies that you could hardly see him for all the gifts we received.”

Beth says Will also received many Beads of Courage, which symbolize the big procedures he had, his days in the hospital, and other challenges he faced. Hospital staff also coordinated with Flashes of Hope for Will, an organization that takes photos of children with cancer and other illnesses to help them see themselves in a new light.

“We truly treasure those beads and those photos,” Beth says. “As a parent, all of that support meant so much.”

A little more than a year ago, on Feb. 25, 2016, Will’s brief time on Earth came to an end. But his legacy didn’t.

“We miss him every single day,” Beth Says. “But, it has helped me so much to help others as part of the healing process. People gave so much to us throughout Will’s life, and it’s our commitment to give back to others and to advance Will’s larger purpose.”

Last Christmas – her family’s first without Will – Beth committed to doing something to help other families at UNC Children’s. She says at first, she just hoped to fill some small lunch bags with treats for families on one floor, and maybe be able to do a few small gift cards.

“We were overwhelmed by the response,” she says. “We were able to do 50 big bags for families on multiple floors, and we even were able to give some gift cards to floor staff, the ICU staff and others at the hospital. It just felt so good to be able to give back.”

The bags were filled with things that Beth said she appreciated while in the hospital with Will – gas cards, gift cards for coffee, hand sanitizer, snacks and more. Beth says she plans to continue doing the bags at Christmas moving forward, and she hopes to expand the impact in the coming years.

“I’m calling this whole effort to give back ‘Will’s Way,’ because his way truly was being a light in the dark,” she says. “No matter what he was going through, he always had a smile. He couldn’t walk or talk, but he had his own way of communicating – and a lot of that was through his smile. We want to keep that going and expand so that others can share in the light he brought to the world.”

For more information about Will and ‘Will’s Way,’ click here

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