Local nonprofit agency launches with an inaugural dontation of toys to benefit infants at Woman’s & Children’s Hospital
Today would have been Gaige Simon’s first birthday. His parents Emily Arcaini and Brock Simon are celebrating and honoring his memory by holding a first birthday party at Women’s & Children’s Hospital to share his story and ensure his legacy lives on for years to come.
Gaige’s Toy Box is the nonprofit agency founded by Emily and Brock in the months after Gaige lost his battle with a rare form of an aggressive cancer just eight short months after he was born. The agency’s goal is to provide toys, pacifiers and other items for children ages 0-3 in the hospital.
“Today, we celebrate Gaige – the sweet, smiling, wonderful angel he was while he was with us for such a brief moment in time, and the angel he has become, watching over us and the legacy we begin today with this donation to benefit countless others,” Emily said.
“We wanted to do something to brighten up the day of the kids in the hospital,” she said. “Women’s & Children’s was honestly amazing to us. The love from all the doctors, nurses and other staff caring for us was simply amazing. With this first of what we hope will be many more donations to come, we are giving back a little bit of the love, compassion and care given to our family.”
Gaige was born on March 14, 2016. During his first few months at home, Gaige met all developmental milestones, Emily said. Then, at his six-month checkup, his pediatrician noted his head was a littler larger than normal. A follow-up CT scan showed a tumor in his brain.
Gaige immediately was placed in the care of Dr. Ammar Morad, pediatric hematologist/oncologist, and Dr. Ann Marie Flannery, pediatric neurosurgeon, both with the Kids Specialty Center at Women’s & Children’s Hospital. Dr. Flannery eventually removed the tumor, but cancerous cells had already shed and traveled to his spinal fluid.
“The cancer was so aggressive,” Emily said. “Weeks after Dr. Flannery removed the tumor in his brain, it was back larger, and three additional tumors had developed.”
Gaige and his family spent several weeks in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Women’s & Children’s Hospital – Acadiana’s only PICU – throughout the course of his treatment. Despite all he was going through, Emily said, Gaige still enjoyed playing whenever he could. That first-hand experience led to the development of Gaige’s Toy Box.
Emily and Brock are pursuing a trademark on the name and have filed for federal nonprofit status. Family, friends, neighbors and others, upon learning of their efforts, began sending toys, gift cards and donations to support their efforts.
“This spiraled on us rapidly,” Emily said. “Gaige was a fighter. We are just following his example. Our efforts, hopefully, will produce blessings for countless families for years to come.”
About Women’s & Children’s Hospital
Founded in 1983, Women’s & Children’s Hospital continues its tradition of providing specialized healthcare services for women and children. Women’s & Children’s Hospital is one of the largest birthing hospitals in the state with an array of women’s services including the Cancer & Infusion Center, robotic surgery, 3D mammography, breast-dedicated MRI, fertility, lactation support and urogynecology. The facility includes the kids E.R. – a Pediatric Emergency Department staffed 24/7 by Board-Certified Pediatricians, Acadiana’s only Level III Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the region’s only Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, a women and children-dedicated Sleep Center and various pediatric subspecialties.