ST. LOUIS – It’s a surprise for Jade, a teenager on a journey. She recently received a set of virtual reality goggles to see the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida, and a free visit there—once her doctor clears her—to see it in person.
“I am going through a bone marrow transplant to hopefully get rid of my sickle cell anemia,” says Jade Westbrooks, St. Louis Children’s Hospital patient.
The Westbrooks live in mid-Missouri but must be near St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
“They will get to go to Florida and Jade has never been to the beach,” says Sarah Shulman, a board-certified music therapist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “She’s been to a lake but never to a beach before so she’s super excited to stay in a beach house.”
“We are middle class we don’t get government assistance; we pay for private insurance so we’re kind of on our own,” says Toni Westbrooks Barnes, Jade’s mother. “So, we took our $6,000 in our savings and we put it in this bus.”
A recent bone marrow transplant means Jade and her mom must be within 20 minutes of the St. Louis Children’s Hospital for 100 days in case of an emergency.
While still seeing doctors, mom and daughter will stay in the RV lot near the hospital in a bus named Bob Ross.
Toni turned innovative and created a bus that they could live in while Jade recuperates, just a six-minute walk from the hospital.
“I decided to name her that because of the trees on the side of her,” says Jade Westbrook. “They look like happy little trees and I said, ‘Her name is Bob Ross.’ My Mother said, ‘what?’”
When she’s done with her treatment, this converted school bus will be converted back into a camper for their trip to Florida and the beach, with the Bob Ross bus.
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