Charity gives back to families on long hospital stays - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Charity gives back to families on long hospital stays

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Nobody wants to be stuck at the hospital and it can be especially difficult when the patient is your child. One South Bend family knows too well what that's like which is why Samara and Nicholas Dulik are working to make these visits as pleasant as possible.

"We just do it because we want them to know they're not alone," says Samara.

The Dulik's are the founders of Cayleigh's Friends. They visit Memorial Hospital weekly to hand out bags of goodies to young patients and their families during long stays. "The kids really have a good time helping us put those bags together and deciding what toys to give to the families. It's kind of a family thing," says Samara.

There are bags of toys for the patient, food and personal care items for the parents and even something for the siblings. "That lets them know that they're not forgotten about, it's just that their brother or sister are sick and that's why they're getting all the attention. It makes them feel special and makes the parents feel a little bit of relief," says Samara.

The Dulik's know what these families need, because they've been there. Their daughter Cayleigh had a stroke in utero. "She was born no suck, no cry, no swallow, no gag reflex, not moving," says Samara.

The first three months of her life -- and theirs -- were in the hospital and now at two years old, Cayleigh visits frequently. "When I'm here in the hospital with her, I feel helpless, I can't do anything for her," says Nicholas.

They say it takes a toll on the whole family, something Michelle Warner and her 12-year-old know too well."It's heartbreaking, it's stressful."

Her son has been in the hospital for nine days now. "I didn't know we were going to stay, I just didn't know."

That's why the bags from Cayleigh's Friends have meant so much to them. "It gives him something to do, he's really happy about it."

The Dulik's say that's exactly why they do this. "We know what these family's need because we've been here plenty of times and we just want to bless them," says Nicholas.

Cayleigh's Friends is a pending non-profit organization and right now a lot of the funding is coming out of the Dulik's own pockets. That's why they are looking for the community to rally behind this cause. For more information on the charity and how to donate click here.

They are hosting their first benefit August 23 and all proceeds will go to Cayleigh's Friends. To purchase tickets click here. You can also call 574-855-1277 for information.

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