A young boys’ cancer treatment sparked an idea about how he can help thousands of other children who are battling cancer. Luke Lange helped start a nonprofit that donated hospital gown replacements to pediatric cancer fighters at Jacksonville’s Nemours Children’s Specialty Care.
The special shirts bring self-expression and dignity back to kids like Elsa McBurney, 7, who is fighting spinal cancer.
Action News Jax’s reporter Kaitlyn Chana asked Elsa, "Why don’t you like wearing hospital gowns? Elsa answered, “I like wearing my own clothes.”
Luke Lange helped start a nonprofit which donated hospital gown replacements to pediatric cancer fighters at #Jacksonville’s @Nemours Children’s Specialty Care. @ActionNewsJax pic.twitter.com/eLZ8Odn0yN— Kaitlyn Chana (@KaitlynANjax) December 7, 2017
Luke’s FastBreaks gave her a pink medical shirt, which covers her skin like a normal shirt, but gives easy access to her port.
These medical shirts meet hospital standards, allowing them to replace the traditional hospital gown in an effort to help with the mental fight the children face.
The medical shirts also restore children’s privacy—something that’s often lacking in a traditional hospital gown.
Luke’s FastBreaks is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that makes colorful medical shirts for children who are in the hospital with life-threatening illnesses and chronic conditions.
The medical shirts enable pediatric patients to feel comfortable during their stay and boost their self-esteem by allowing for self-expression with various color options and designs.
Executive director Britton Lynn said the nonprofit was founded because Luke wanted a better way to dress in the hospital when battling cancer. He came up with the idea for the Luke’s FastBreaks medical shirts during his fight with cancer.
While in the hospital, Luke was forced to trade in his gym shorts and T-shirt for a new uniform--the hospital gown.
Luke said the hospital gown made him “feel more sick.”He just wanted to feel like a normal third grader.
“He kept telling his parents, ‘I hate the hospital gown. I just want to feel like a normal kid,’” said Lynn.
Most patients will tell you that hospital gown leaves little room for privacy and strips them of their identity, making the psychological challenges for a child or teen fighting cancer even more severe.
Luke and his parents had an idea.
They cut up the sides of his T-shirts and sewed in snap tape, allowing easy access to ports, IVs, lines and tubes, while also giving Luke the ability to be in an outfit that looked and felt normal.
“A lot of our kids have multiple lines and feeding tubes going throughout, which is why we make it go all the way down in length,” explained Lynn.
Luke wore his new shirts to treatment at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Texas, and soon after that, other children in the hospital started asking where they could get one, too.
After beating cancer, Luke and his family started a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to donating these medical shirts to patients who need them.
In just one year, Luke’s FastBreaks has donated over 5,000 medical shirts to pediatric patients in 45 different hospitals, and Ronald McDonald House Charities in 20 states and 40 cities.
“When they see Luke on the shirt and the name Luke’s FastBreaks – it’s a lot more than just a shirt, it's hope,” Lynn said.
The sizes range from toddler to youth, all the way up to adult XXL, allowing every child and teen in hospitals to find a shirt that fits properly.
This video shares more information about the nonprofit’s story and history.
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