Pediatric patients decorate doughnuts, receive chemo ducks

MAHONING TWP. — Amanda Atkinson said a doughnut topping party was a good way for her son, Jesse, 4, to get out of his hospital room.

“He looks forward to getting out of the room,” she said Monday. Jesse relapsed and is being treated for cancer of the nervous system at Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital.

Duck Donuts, of State College, sponsored the party for kids at the hospital and delivered 25 Gabe’s Chemo Ducks for pediatric oncology patients.

 Jesse brought along a plastic dinosaur while he added sprinkles to a doughnut. “He loves dinosaurs,” said Atkinson, of the Nanticoke area.

Noah Whitacre, 6, added marshmallow, caramel and cookie crumbs to his doughnut that he would be eating later. “I might bring it upstairs,” the patient said.

“He’s enjoying himself. He is really sociable,” his mother, Sheena Whitacre, of Pottsville, said. He was admitted Sunday night and may stay for two or three days, she said.

Janette Haas, State College Duck Donuts owner, brought along some blue and white beach balls she tossed back and forth with some of the kids. Duck Donuts was founded in Duck, N.C., and has beach-type names for some of its doughnuts, said Haas, who used to work at Geisinger and lives in Danville.

Asia Jones, 6, of Lewistown; and Owen Jones and Brielle Jones, both 7 and from Huntingdon, also decorated doughnuts. They were waiting for a baby to be born, according to their aunt, Karisa Bowersox.

“This is fun — it’s awesome,” Brielle said.  Asia said she added sprinkles, cookie crumbs and marshmallow to her creation. “I realized I don’t like doughnuts,” she said. She said Brielle or Owen would probably eat hers.

Tracey Craddock, child life specialist at Geisinger, said the hospital has some of the 12-inch Chemo Ducks with mediports to teach cancer patients about medication.

 Haas said they expect to deliver more of the ducks later to the hospital.

Her business collected $1,900 in donations in September to deliver the ducks to Geisinger. Duck Donuts’ corporation raised more than $68,000 for other hospitals, she said.

Gabe’s Chemo Duck programs provide the duck, a bilingual overview book, a printable activity book and an educational DVD with a cartoon.

Since becoming a sponsor in 2017, Duck Donuts has raised more than $140,000. More than 3,500 duck programs have been held for children undergoing cancer treatment. Duck Donuts has 78 franchise locations in two countries and more than 145 additional contracts in 26 states.

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