CENTRAL CITY, Ark. — September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and one Arkansas family is turning their pain into something positive after losing their daughter to cancer.
When you step into Grace Hopper’s room you’ll come face to face with princesses and dinosaurs.
“Her two favorite things,” said Caroline Hopper, Grace’s mom. “So energetic. She always wanted to play outside. Very into arts and crafts, loved going to church.”
Until one snowy February day when Grace started to complain about not feeling well.
“She got a fever and we took her to the doctor,” said Caroline. “Several different times and after ruling out things like strep and COVID or the flu we just thought it was a virus and she would get better.”
But Grace didn’t improve. And after her doctor did some blood work and received the results alarm bells started ringing.
“He called me with the results and said you need to go to the children’s hospital in Little Rock, right now,” said Caroline.
There, the doctors delivered the news.
“They said it was leukemia and that by the next day we would know what type. It was T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia and they started treatment that day,” said Caroline.
But Grace didn’t let her diagnoses slow her down.
“The thing with Grace is she wasn’t just laying in the bed sick all the time. She was energetic and full of life. I mean she was having fun even at the hospital,” said Caroline.
However, after a 16-month fight, Grace passed away on June 8 at just five years old.
Grace’s parents, Aaron and Caroline, decided they had to keep Grace’s energetic Spirit alive.
“When Grace was in the hospital, she got so many toys all the time,” said Caroline. “And it made her hospital stay so much easier. When you have new toys, even when you are at the hospital, it made things more exciting and made it less of a place she dreaded to go.”
That’s where the idea of Grace’s Toy Closet began.
“Let’s just get some toys to donate, but then it was like ‘How awesome would it be to sustain this so these kids coming in to get their port access or checkups, if they could get a toy every time how amazing would that be?'” said Caroline.
So, Caroline created an Amazon wish list to help give toys to Arkansas Children’s Northwest in Springdale. She says it’s a perfect way to keep Grace’s legacy going.