Kelsey Jackson

Contributing Writer

On March 13, I began the 20-plus hour journey to Memphis, Tennessee with nine other participants.

Of course, I was excited, nervous and everything in between to dive into a state and opportunity I had never experienced before. Little did I know, this trip would change me forever.

The purpose of this ASB trip was to work at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, located in the heart of Memphis.

Le Bonheur is an amazing hospital with hundreds of volunteers, and patients ranging from having asthma to brain tumors.

On Monday morning I walked into the hospital side-by-side with my team, with the biggest smile on my face. Throughout the week, emotions ran high, but that smile never left my face.

The whole week my team and I were given tasks varying from pushing around different specialized carts to just simply asking parents if they needed a break.

Contributed Photo / Kelsey Jackson

Contributed Photo / Kelsey Jackson

You never really realize how lucky you are until you see a parent’s face light up when they’re offered a little extra shampoo or some time to themselves to get some fresh air or a meal.

There was one day when we had the opportunity to bake cookies for patients and families. Another day we helped with a teddy bear event, where patients were able to pick a teddy bear, name it and then bring it around to different stations.

I was fortunate enough to have interacted with patients of all ages.

There was a five-month-old baby girl that I held almost every day, and an 18-year-old patient that I was thankful to have met and played Uno with on the last day.

We all gained strong relationships with some of these patients and it was definitely hard to say goodbye, whether it was them being discharged and ready to go home, or us ending our volunteer work for the week.

I went into this trip thinking to myself that I was here to make a difference. I was here to impact kids’ lives in one positive way or another.

I never thought that the impact these kids made on my life would be something greater than I have ever imagined.

Yes, I may have put many smiles on many patients’ faces, but the smiles and memories they gave me is something indescribable and more importantly, unforgettable.

Listening to patients’ stories was something that I will also be forever appreciative for.

It taught me that life is too short to complain about anything, and that nothing should be taken from granted.

Some of these kids had nothing but a hospital bed and a few toys, yet still were some of the happiest kids I have ever met.

I think that was the best lesson I could have learned — that through everything, you should always remain happy.

So, Tennessee, I thank you.

I thank you for allowing me to experience your beautiful culture, the Le Bonheur family and the best barbeque I have ever eaten.

But most importantly, I thank you for giving me the best week of my life.

Share and Enjoy !