All Around Fun
David’s House Event Unites Families, Children and Staff
Emelia Anderson, 10, (center) and Emily Vire, 10, both of Claremont, N.H., roll their friend Niome Smith, 11, of New Ipswich, N.H., in a foam wheel at the sixth annual Sundae at David's House in Lebanon, N.H. on July 20, 2014. The event featured food, music and activities for kids and supported David's House, which is where families of children receiving treatment at the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center can stay. (Valley News - Ariana van den Akker) Purchase photo reprints »
Zachary Duby, 4, of East Dummerston, Vt., holds onto his mother Cheryl's hands as they touch a wood turtle held by Josh Detweiler of VINS in Quechee, Vt., during the sixth annual Sundae at David's House in Lebanon, N.H. on July 20, 2014. Zachary's family stayed at David's house after he was born at 26 weeks. The event featured food, music and activities for kids and supported David's House, which is where families of children receiving treatment at the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center can stay. (Valley News - Ariana van den Akker) Purchase photo reprints »
Brody Thompson, 8, of Temple, N.H., tries to blow a giant bubble during the sixth annual Sundae at David's House in Lebanon, N.H. on July 20, 2014. Brody and his parents stay at the house when he comes to the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center for treatment for a blood disorder. Brody was excited to show David's house to his older brother Kaiden, 10. (Valley News - Ariana van den Akker) Purchase photo reprints »
Lebanon — Each time 5-year-old David Cyr was discharged from the hospital after receiving treatment for leukemia, he wanted to bring all of his newly made friends home with him. Although David lost his battle with the disease in 1984, his legacy was evident Sunday under clearing skies and a whirlwind of laughing kids jumping in an inflatable bouncy house, getting their faces painted, petting a live snake and turtle — and enjoying all the ice cream they could eat.
“David had eight relapses,” Dick Cyr, David’s father and the founder of David’s House, said. “Whenever he was discharged, he would always beg me to take home all the kids from the ward. So in a way, that’s what I’m doing.”
David’s House, which opened its doors in 1986, is a 20-bedroom home near Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center where families can stay while their children are being treated at the hospital.
More than 13,000 families have stayed at David’s House, and about 500 of them returned Sunday for the sixth annual Sundae at David House’s for a day of food, music and activities among families, current and former patients and staff.
“If it wasn’t for David, we wouldn’t be able to stay here,” said 7-year-old Natalia Olson as she played with her balloon animal.
“My daughter, Lilah, was born two months early,” Natalia’s mother, Colleen James, said. “She’s doing pretty well, doing everything she’s supposed to be doing at 34 weeks.”
Lilah — born two weeks ago — and James and Natalie have been staying at David’s House while Lilah is treated at DHMC. The James family lives in Swanzey, N.H., about a 90-minute drive from Lebanon, and staying at David’s House relieves them of what would other otherwise be a burdensome commute.
“The first year of the event, we had only a couple dozen people show up, and it was pouring rain,” said Dawn Stanhope, executive director of David’s House. “It’s blossomed in the past few years. It’s the best day of the year here, and for families who are currently staying here, it’s great for them to talk to families who have already been through what they’re going through.”
“We stayed at David’s House when the kids were born,” Mathew Seward of Goffstown, N.H., said as his twin daughters, Jessamine and Cassandra, balanced on the see-saw. “They were born at 26 weeks — one pound 13 ounces and two pounds 15 ounces. They spent about 90 days in the hospital. David’s House provided my wife a home away from home so she could be close to the kids.”
“I love working with kids,” Eve Amato, a student at the New England School of Hair Design, said. “And the girls are actually really patient about getting their nails done.”
Carol and Don Brooks, residents of Milford, N.H., say that they spent the better part of three months at David’s House. Their daughter Beth was diagnosed with Wilms’ tumor, a type of kidney cancer, when she was four years old.
“The location was great,” Don Brooks said. “You didn’t have to worry about a hotel, so it took those concerns away. And when you’re around other families, everyone is in a similar scenario. Only the details are different.”
“Whenever we can make it up here, we come,” Carol Brooks said.
Lauren Bender can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.