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MetroKids Mom: Julie Keeton

Meet a MetroKids Mom

Julie, Adam & their brood at EPCOT

Tennessee resident Julie Keeton and her seven kids are currently living in Philly while 7-year-old Weston recovers from a heart/lung transplant at CHOP.

The family — including husband Adam, Easton (8), Abby (6), Emery (5), Sutton (4), Avery (3) and Ellie (23 months)is supported by GiveMiracles.org, a nonprofit that funds Weston’s in-hospital Child Life care and, says Julie, has been “vital to making our life in Philadelphia as normal as possible. Child Life is such a vital piece of our family support system. Weston's Child Life specialist has worked intensively with him to learn about his disease, medications and his transplant operation. With medical role play, Weston had the chance to do "surgery" on a medical doll, practice with all of the tubes and needles, and talk candidly about his fears during his surgery.  Not only did they work with Weston, but also worked closely with our other children to address their fears and concerns about transplant surgery. Child Life iPads have also been incredibly helpful to give Weston activities, music or TV shows to distract him during a procedure."

How she keeps positive:

"Being split apart is so hard. Adam stays in Tennessee for work and to keep our insurance. When the hospital where Weston started his surgery journey couldn’t take care of him, CHOP was the only center in the country that agreed to take on his case. We were welcomed to Philadelphia by so many strangers who quickly became great friends. In everything, Weston's team has always looked out for his best interest."

The Keetons find kid fun in Philly:

"CHOP has encouraged us to have a life outside the hospital. When Weston was well enough to live outside of CHOP, we were able to visit the Philadelphia Zoo, Morris Arboretum, Tinicum's John Heinz Refuge, Please Touch Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Franklin Square and the Academy of Natural Sciences. We are amazed with all of the wonderful, child-friendly places here in Philly.

The kids love to go bowling at North Bowl, eat at Shake Shack, Chickie's & Petes, Honey's Sit 'N Eat and Uncle Oogie's. Most recently, the kids had their first cannolis from Termini Brothers. One of the kids¹ favorite things to do is go to the different farmers markets around the city. They love buying fresh produce from the local farmers. We went on a hayride at Linvilla Orchards and the kids got to make s'mores around the campfire."

Life for a family at CHOP:

"The kids come with me to the hospital every day. Child Life helps us set up special actiities. I try to have 'boys' day' or 'girls' day' once or twice a week so that everyone gets to spend time with Weston, but I don't sacrifice being able to be present for all of Weston's special needs. The kids are also very involved in the music and art therapy. The music therapist has been amazing to 'jam' with all of the kids on Weston's good days or sing soft lullabies when Weston isn't feeling his best. Art therapy provides a great outlet for the kids to all get messy making masterpieces together.  Juggling it all is very hard, but we know that part of what gives Weston strength is knowing that he has a great group of brothers and sisters cheering him on."

We have been so fortunate to have such great care for Weston and CHOP has taken in our entire family and welcomed us with open arms. We truly have a second family here. And the Give Miracles campaign will help support the incredible efforts of the Child Life Department and give so many kids like Weston the chance to still be kids while they are in the hospital. Each dollar raised through Give Miracles helps to fund activities that help children like Weston and our family cope in unmanagable situations."

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