Former pediatric patient returns to spread joy

Each year, Brianna Atkins, a former pediatric patient and director and co-founder of the Bring Joy to the Children Foundation, comes to UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital to spread holiday cheer.

Brianna Atkins visits the healing wall in the UF Health Shands Hospital Atrium to see the ceramic tile she made while a pediatric patient.

On Dec. 21, the Bring Joy to the Children Foundation delivered its largest annual toy donation to our children’s hospital, passing out toys, candy canes and handmade angels. Volunteers caroled through the halls and visited with patients, while Atkins shared her story of hope and inspiration with the families.

“When I was 4 months old, I was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare type of childhood cancer,” she said. “I was in the hospital through the holiday season, and my mom and I were out of the room for one of my chemotherapy treatments. When we returned, there was a tiny rattle left in my crib. This simple gift inspired Bring Joy to the Children.”

Since 1996, the Bring Joy to the Children Foundation has supported Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals by sharing the inspiration and joy of the holiday season with children in the hospital.

Atkins said, “The amount of pure happiness and inspiration this gives the children is life-changing.”