For most kids, birthdays are a time for parties, cake, and presents. But when Rylee Routledge turned 7, she had a different kind of gift in mind.
Rylee’s little brother, Jake, had surgery in December 2014 for craniosynostosis—when the bones in a baby’s head fuse together too early, before the brain is fully formed. The surgery took place at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, under the care of Pediatric Neurosurgeon Daniel Guillaume, MD, MS, and Plastic Surgeon Martin Lacey, MD.
“Jake’s surgery has made both of my daughters more compassionate and more aware,” Rylee’s mom, Shannon Routledge, said. Rylee’s younger sister, Raegen, is 5. “They seem to be more empathetic in situations where someone may need more help or is not feeling well.”
Still, Shannon Routledge was amazed when Rylee, after seeing a TV ad for a national children’s hospital, announced that she wanted to send her birthday money to “Jake’s hospital” to help other kids. And Rylee didn’t balk when Shannon suggested that she ask friends coming to her birthday party to make a donation instead of bringing her a gift.
So after the party, Rylee sent $125 to Masonic Children’s Hospital, along with a card and a sweet note: “I wanted to thank you for helping Jake and taking such good care of him.”
Proud parents Shannon and Darwin Routledge report that Raegen (and Jake, when he turns 2) are planning to follow in their big sister’s footsteps and donate their birthday gift money this summer as well.