A young Gilbert girl who spent several weeks in a Mesa hospital turned a party in her honor on Sunday into a chance to give to other patients.
Abby Klosterman suffers from colitis, which causes inflammation and ulcers on the large intestine of the colon. She has had five hospital stays since her diagnosis last April.
Because she has retained a good attitude and been a model patient, caring for others as well as herself, Banner Desert Medical Center staff nominated her as the “Hero of the Month” through the Kids Wish Network. Each month, a different patient between the ages of 3 and 18 is honored, and the hospital puts on a party with cake and a gift card from the network for the patient.
Abby asked the nearly 40 friends and family who attended Sunday’s gathering in the gardens at the hospital to bring a gift for Andrea’s Closet.
Andrea’s Closet provides a toy or gift for children during their hospital stay to help brighten their day or encourage them in their progress, said Julie Anich, a child life assistant who cared for Abby during her stays.
“Being here she realized the importance of having to go through something very difficult and the items available for her,” Anich said. “We use toys to help empower and encourage patients to get out of bed to continue with the needed care.”
More than half of Abby’s large intestine has been removed. She still receives outpatient care because of a colostomy bag and will undergo a second surgery in April.
Abby, giggling with the many friends surrounding her on Sunday, welcomed the chance to give back.
“I know how it feels to have a procedure done, and it makes you feel way better than being poked and prodded” when a patient gets to go to Andrea’s Closet in the hospital. “I know how they feel.”
Dozens of toys were donated on Sunday, from cars to art kits to stuffed animals and dolls.
“I think it makes her a hero for everything she’s gone through, from the doctor appointments to the very invasive tests,” Abby’s mom, Gina Klosterman, said after thanking everyone for their prayers and support.
As for the hospital and her time there, including the 14 days after her surgery, Abby said, “They took very good care of me. It was better than I expected.”
A fundraiser to help Abby’s family with medical expenses will be held Saturday at the Gilbert Youth Soccer sports complex. Friends and supporters will sell wristbands that read “Goal for Abby” for $2 during soccer games and team picture day, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The complex is at Germann and Greenfield roads.