Penguins stick together in the wild. They tend to cluster together in large colonies like the local one at Perkins Elementary School that’s been rallying around one of its own throughout the 2017-18 school year.
Last July, 3rd grader Olivia Huff was diagnosed with a form of leukemia. As if that weren’t enough to deal with by itself, lately she’s also been battling flu and pneumonia. Not surprisingly, she had to be hospitalized and wasn’t able to be at school on Friday, designated as Superhero Day at Perkins. But that didn’t stop her from dressing up in the spirit of the occasion, nor did it keep her and her fellow Penguins apart.
Friday morning they connected via FaceTime, a heartwarming story on a bone chilling day.
Teacher Adam Alexander assigned his class a lesson on the Winter Olympics that are getting underway in South Korea. Katy Woods and Mara Welk (in the guise of “Captain Valentine”) teamed up with their sick pal “Wonder Woman” for some research about the obscure cult sport of curling.
“She has powered through treatment despite her hospitalizations and recent PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) stay,” said Olivia’s mom, Dana Huff. “She has such a great support system with all of her Perkins friends and teachers…her (1st grade) sister Eleanor and family, and her personal faith. She has about 18 months of treatment left. Liv keeps a positive attitude…and attributes that outlook to all of her friends and support.”
Alexander said Olivia has been in school most of the year, except for Mondays when she undergoes regular treatment.
“But then she got hit with flu and pneumonia too,” noted mom. “Since then we try to keep her involved as much as we can, like we are today.”
At the end of the day Olivia’s class would hold its Friendship Party, like classrooms all over the district are doing as Valentine’s Day approaches. A boxful of cards was collected for Olivia that Dana would pick up and deliver. Visitors are restricted to minimize Olivia’s exposure to even more ailments than she’s already dealing with.
Before signing off with Katy and Mara to head for a therapy session, Olivia, in her best Wonder Woman impersonation, managed a grin and a wave. She looked weakened at first, until you stop to consider the weight she’s been lifting all year and realize the inspirational-grade strength she displays – waaay more than Penguins are generally given credit for.
Get well, Wonder Woman!