Flip flop fundraiser for UI Stead Family Children's
When Abbie Dehring from Iowa City, Iowa decided to do something for patients at University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, she had no idea that before summer’s end she would become one of them, or that her donation would double in size.
Abbie, 12, decided in April 2012 that she wanted to raise money for UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital. A friend in Texas had told her about decorating flip-flops - those loose-fitting sandals people generally wear to the pool or the beach – so she got some friends together in her Iowa City neighborhood and set to work.
She purchased 50 pairs of shoes, ribbons, sequins, and other decorations, spending about $75 - some of it her own, some donated from her parents and friends - to get started. Using evenings and weekends, Abbie and her friends decorated the shoes, stringing ribbon around the tops, gluing on sequins, flowers, or beads and painting the soles.
At the end of April, on a day off from school, Abbie and her friends set up a stand in the neighborhood and sold the shoes for $5 a pair, as well as homemade cookies and lemonade. They kept the stand going from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and by day’s end had raised $125.
"She printed off fliers, made posters, and took pre-orders from some of her classmates," says Abbie’s mom, Laurie Dehring. "Abbie wanted to raise money specifically for UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital."
Before she could make arrangements to take the money to the hospital, however, Abbie became ill and required surgery that resulted in a four-day stay at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital.
"All the staff was really nice," she says. "It was more like staying in a hotel, so it was fun for being in the hospital."
A craft room next door to her patient room gave Abby a place to relax with her hobby and an opportunity to meet some of the other kids on the floor. Seeing where her donation would be going made her even more determined to get it in.
"I got to see the kids in their rooms and how sick they really were, and I got excited knowing I had this money to donate to help them," she says.
During a follow-up visit with her doctors Graeme Pitcher, MB, BCH and Jennifer Carr, MD, in October, Abbie told them about her fundraiser and asked where to take the money. The doctors were so impressed with her efforts they told her they’d match what she raised to double the donation.
"Dr. Pitcher said people just don’t do this and they wanted to match it," Abbie says. "I’m super excited about it."
Abbie wasn’t particular about how the money was spent, only that it went to help patients at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital. She and her mom have given the money to the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital Fund at the UI Foundation. Leadership of UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital relies on that fund for the hospital’s most pressing needs, as well as for programs that enhance the emotional well-being of patients and families.