The Reasons Behind the Blue Lights Shining for Cook Children's
If you see a blue light shining outside of a home or business this week, there may be a story behind it. Cook Children’s marks its 100th birthday on March 21 and to celebrate, some are choosing to shine a blue light. For many, the gesture means something personal. It’s more than support for a hospital, it’s a testament to the impact the people inside the medical center walls have made on their lives.
Here are some of their stories:
WHERE DOCTORS LISTEN
Linda Downey was just 12 years old when an eye doctor told her he could see fluid built up behind her eyes. It was 1968 and she knew something was wrong because she had been losing her eyesight and ability to walk over the previous two years.
“Other doctors thought it was psychological, but he said this is serious. She needs to see a neurosurgeon,” Downey said.
She was sent to see a physician at Fort Worth Children’s Hospital, located in the spot where the main building of Cook Children’s sits now. During her stay, she would take rides through the tunnel that connected the adjacent hospital (Texas Health Harris Methodist) to the children’s hospital.
“It was like a roller coaster, but it wasn’t much fun for me because of the fluid on my brain.”
Downey underwent three brain surgeries and finally left Fort Worth Children’s in 1969. Since then, she’s been to Cook Children’s many times to visit her friends’ kids who’ve become patients over the years. She says the difference between then and now is incredible.
“It’s very different than it used to be. There’s much more for children to do,” she said.
One thing that hasn’t changed – doctors listening to their patients.
“At the time, I just needed someone to listen,” Downey explained. “I wouldn’t be alive today if there wasn’t a hospital dedicated to listening to children and their parents.”
A NEW HOME
Mandy Flaming’s family also lives close to Cook Children’s, but not because they planned it that way.
Her daughter, Tatum, had been receiving treatment for leukemia for two years while living in Abilene. During Tatum’s final spinal procedure, doctors discovered she had relapsed. It was then that Tatum’s parents knew they couldn’t go home.
“We knew so much of her treatment would be in patient and our family would be separated if we were to travel back and forth,” said Flaming. “We decided, pretty much overnight, to move to Fort Worth.”
They called on their family and friends who had been offering their help for years and asked for assistance moving. Before they knew it, their home was packed up and on a moving truck headed to North Texas.
“We lived in the Ronald McDonald House for a couple of months while we were trying to get on our feet,” she said. “It was difficult at times because it wasn’t what we wanted, but it was what we had been handed so we were going to face it with bravery and go forward.”
Tatum finished her relapse therapy in 2013 and now see her Cook Children’s oncologist once a year for a checkup.
“We’re so grateful for the doctors and nurses. Anything we can give back, we are more than willing, even if it’s a blue light on our porch.”
On a cold November day in the early 1900s, Fort Worth's former postmistress Ida Turner spotted a man in downtown Fort Worth carrying a baby in his arms. Covered only in a light blanket, the baby was blue from the cold. The man was a physician and the baby had been abandoned at his office. Turner purchased a warm wrap for the baby and after some investigating, learned that no hospital in Fort Worth was prepared to provide charity care to an abandoned child. She resolved to change that and the rest is history.
This chance meeting between a child in need and a caring individual are at the very root and heart of Cook Children's. Just four months later, on March 21, 1918, Fort Worth's Free Baby Hospital opened, and Ida Turner's dream became a reality, thanks to contributions from hundreds of community members, donated services from countless tradesmen and scores of volunteers.
Learn more about our history, your stories and celebration plans at www.cook100years.org.