Texas Children's Hospital hosts holiday party for its patients

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Children's cancer treatment has come a long way. Eighty-percent of those diagnosed are now cured, but there are still many patients who won't be healthy for the holidays. But the hospital has put something together for the ones still battling the disease.

Songs of the season, penguins from the North Pole, a juggling elf and gifts galore.

"It's like the whole town's birthday," says five-year-old Adrianne.

With smiles all around, it's hard to believe this festive spot is the same one thousands of children with cancer and blood disorders come for treatment. Adrianne is one of them.

"I'm sick and I got leukemia," she says.

She picked a princess-perfect present from a massive table of toys, but the best gift is just being able to forget that she's sick.

"Any kind of break you can give people is what I think's important, just a moment of happiness," explains Sidney Faust.

She and longtime friend and Cora Sue Mach have been hosting this holiday party for the past 16 years. All the gifts for the children come from their annual trick-or-toy party in October.

"And everyone who comes to the Halloween party brings a toy. This year we had over 300 toys," Faust says.

Every patient and siblings get to choose one.

"Many of our kids, probably 40 percent at least, are seriously financially challenged. So these may be the only gifts they get for the holidays," explains Dr. ZoAnn Dreyer.

Juliet and her sister Delivin are from Kenya. They came to Texas Children's because they have sickle cell disease.

"We knew in America there was a lot of treatment... They could get the kids better and they could find a cure," Juliet says.

The gift she picked, she won't keep. It's for her other sister at home.

"I wanted her to have the teddy bear. It represents my love for her," says Juliet.

When the party wraps up, it moves to the rooms of patients too sick to attend.

Mach says, "Just to walk in the room with Mr. and Mrs. Santa and see these children and their eyes light up."

Mach and Faust say they'll keep hosting as long as they can, because as Adrianne says, "It's about Christmas. Christmas is my favorite."
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