Every year during the holidays, Christina Solis returns to Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara’s advanced care pediatric unit, and fulfills her son Alex’s wish. She does it with a cart carrying carafes of coffee and hot chocolate and a pair of red wagons filled with “Pillow Pets,” comfy stuffed animals that unfold as plush pillows.
“My son Alex had a Pillow Pet that he called Frenchy,” says Solis. “And he took it here to Kaiser Permanente with him when he was battling a very aggressive cancer.”
During her annual visit, Christina goes from room to room in the pediatrics unit, offering a the stuffed toys to hospitalized kids, and hot chocolate or coffee to the parents who often spend many hours in hospital rooms with their ailing children.
“I remember when I was here with Alex; it’s really nice to get a momentary break. That’s why I bring the hot chocolate every year,” says Solis.
Christina’s son Alex was an athletic 12-year-old at the Blossom Hill Elementary School in Los Gatos. When he was diagnosed with cancer, a neighbor gave Alex his lion Pillow Pet, Frenchy.
“It sounded like a silly name to Alex, who was full of jokes and humor,” Christina reminisced. During this difficult time in Alex’s life Frenchy the lion made him laugh and brought him comfort.
“When it came to Christmas and Alex was still here at Kaiser Permanente in the hospital, I asked him what he’d like for the holiday,” says Christina. “He wished that all the children in the pediatrics unit could have a Pillow Pet like Frenchy.”
And so was born Christina Solis’ yearly mission called “Alex’s Wish.”
Since 2010, Christina has fulfilled her son’s wish. Each year, she buys up all the Pillow Pets she can and delivers them to children hospitalized at the Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center.
Panda Pillow Pets were popular choices on Christina’s 2015 visit, but her red wagons carried a good supply of tigers, elephant, and zebras as well.
“The Pillow Pets bring added comfort for sick children in the hospital,” says Christina. “Most of them just hug it, others like to play with it tossing it around.”
Most of the young patients who got the plush toys during the 2015 visit just wanted to hug them.
“Each child gets to choose his favorite animal,” says Christina who supports her purchases by holding fundraisers in the community and at Alex’s school in Los Gatos.
Christina is talking about expanding her giveaway to Texas, where she has relatives.
Her visits to the hospital to fulfill Alex’s wish, though, are bittersweet. The toys and hot drinks bring great comfort to the young patients and their parents. And, in a way, to Christina herself, because her son Alex did not survive his cancer. He died in 2010, shortly after making his wish.