Gracie helps give the gift of art

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By Mark Ambrogi

Since being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Gracie Gumino has spent more than 60 nights at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health North, including her 12th birthday and Christmas and New Year’s in 2013.

“Some days she’s felt so awful that the only thing that made her smile is doing the art projects,” said her mother Bobbi Gumino, the school nurse at Oak Trace Elementary in Westfield.

Gracie, 13, is sharing that love with other Riley children with a big assist from Oak Trace students.

Oak Trace Parents Teachers Organization president Jena Collinsworth said the PTO sold bracelets last year for Gracie. They asked Grace what she would like to do with the extra money and she suggested getting art supplies for Riley kids as her way of giving back.

“It’s (art) the one thing that made me happy when I was there so we thought it would be nice to share it,” Gracie said. “I’m very happy with everything that came in.”

On Dec. 16, the school presented several boxes of the supplies to the Child Life Program of Riley at IU Health North in Carmel. Bobbi said the response to the project was overwhelming. Each child who made an arts supplies donation also made a Christmas ornament for the Riley patients.

“The whole Oak Trace community has been amazing,” Bobbi said. “Everybody in the Westfield Washington schools has been great.”

Gracie, an eighth-grader at Westfield Intermediate School, is in maintenance treatment, including oral chemotherapy every day and a spinal tap and chemo in her spine every month. She is scheduled to be in treatment until September. Complications from the chemotherapy have caused hip problems and Gracie is currently using crutches. She hopes to be off the crutches for her sister’s wedding on Dec. 27. Gracie was finishing sixth grade when it was diagnosed. In seventh grade, she was taught at home and one of the teachers from the middle school came to her home frequently to help.

“She goes to the school this year whenever she can,” Bobbi said. “She’s missed about 24 days so far this year.”

Bobbi said it is fortunate that ALL is the most treatable form of leukemia. According to St. Jude’s Research Hospital website, 98 percent of children go into remission within weeks after starting treatment. About 90 percent of those children can be cured (they are considered cured 10 years after being in remission.)

The student council helped deliver the supplies to Riley.

“It’s a great project to support a super hospital and take care of all the kiddos,” Oak Trace principal Robin Lynch said.

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