by Pete Mazzaccaro
You would never know by talking to Morgan Hellebusch that she has a condition that will send her to the hospital five or six times a year from high blood sugar levels.
The 8-year-old Germantown Academy second-grader is an active lacrosse player, dancer and piano student and, like other 8-year-old girls, is concerned about her friends and how her hair looks when you take her picture for a newspaper photo.
But Morgan, a Wyndmoor resident, has a condition called hypoglycemia with ketoacidosis (which, by the way she can pronounce very well) that puts her at risk for high blood sugar if she is not able to eat enough. Generally, according to her mother Annamarie, Morgan is most at risk for hospitalization when her body is fighting off some other illness that might suppress her appetite like a cold or a flu.
“If I don’t eat, my sugar goes, my stomach hurts and I don’t feel good,”she said. “ When that happens I have to go to CHOP and have an IV.”
Often, she has to stay overnight at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Those trips, though, did not inspire her to feel sorry for herself. Instead, she asked her mother if there was a way she might raise money for other kids at CHOP who, she thinks, are sicker than she is.
“When I walk by [other rooms at CHOP], I see other kids who can’t leave their room, and they look so sick and they don’t feel good, even worse than me,” she said.
That got Morgan thinking that she would really like to help those kids. To do so, she is hosting “Morgan’s Art Cart Carnival” in the backyard of her home to raise money for the art carts in CHOP’s Oncology Department that are brought to children whose illnesses prevent them from leaving their beds.
“I want to raise money to help kids who have cancer,” she said.
Morgan’s mother, Annemarie, helped come up with the name and found a number of corporate sponsors to pull off the event. She’s very happy to help her daughter raise money for CHOP, which she said has been incredibly helpful to Morgan and her family.
“Morgan’s diagnosis was very upsetting for [husband] Stroud and me, but the Endocrinolgy Team was very supportive and helped our family navigate the best way to take care of Morgan,” she said.
The carnival will take place in the Helllebusch family’s backyard on Saturday, May 4. It’s an invitation-only affair – there’s only so much room in the backyard – though the Hellebusches hope to expand it in the near future. So far, 50 guests had RSVPd.
What will guests do?
“Well, there’s going to be three art stations – a magnet station, a coloring station for like little kids, and there’s going to be spin art,” Morgan said. “And we’re not sure about the sand art. For games, we’re going to have a couple basketballs, pin the tail on the donkey, we’re going to have this golf game and skeeball.”
In addition, hot dogs, cotton candy, snow cones and more will be served.
Annamarie said that Geppert Lumber, in Roslyn, is providing games and most of the art supplies for the carnival. She also credited a number of other companies with underwriting the carnival: Stroud Hellebusch-Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, Geppert Bros. Inc., Geppert Party & Tool Rental, Debra Bedrosian Vozzo Graphic Designer, John J. McGettigan Inc., Long & Foster, Cathy and Arnie Reusch, Fuzzy Slippers Marketing Strategies Inc., Barbara B’s Jewels, Timm Carey Designs and Classico Corporation
Asked how many she hoped to have come to her carnival, Morgan said she hoped she’d have many more than the 50 who had RSVPd. After her mother suggested that maybe the final number would be 70, Morgan thought bigger.
“I think maybe 100,” she said.