BATAVIA - Easter week is an important anniversary for Julie Premer. In 1995, the Batavia resident found herself in the hospital with her three-year-old son, Cameron Floyd. He had been air lifted from Delnor Hospital in Geneva to Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, after he suffered a severe head injury in a car accident, and had to undergo immediate surgery. Just three days before Easter, little Cameron lay in an induced coma, when one of his aunts came to visit with a little Easter basket for him.
"I did not realize it was Easter," Premer said. "When I saw the basket, I was not sure why, but it gave me hope. Hope that Cameron was going to be okay. Even though my son was in a coma, I felt that Easter did not pass him by."
Inside the basket was candy and a little stuffed bunny. Premer said she used the bunny on Cameron's chest, to keep all the tubes and cord from lying directly on him. That gift would spark an annual effort to bring a little joy to sick children at the holiday.
"Every day and every minute you pray for your child to recover and have a normal life," Premer recalled. "I swore if he came out of this I would find some way of giving back to everyone involved in Cameron's recovery.
A year later Premer did just that, by way of establishing “I Believe, Too!” in 1996, a charity which fills and delivers Easter baskets to hospitilzed children.
"'I Believe, Too'" was formed as a way of saying thank you to everyone involved in Cameron’s recovery and to give hope to families who are going through the experience of having a hospitalized child at Easter," Premer said. In 1996, she said she took eight Easter baskets back to Delnor Hospital. This week, the group plans to deliver more than 700 to a variety of hospitals across the area.
"It is hard to believe how something as small and simple as an Easter basket can give hope and joy back to a child and their family," Premer said. "I call our gifts 'a basket of hope'."
They will be delivered this year to children staying at:
• Delnor Hospital Geneva • Sherman Hospital , Elgin • Comer Hospital - Chicago • Edwards Hospital - Naperville • Central DuPage Hospital - Winfield • Provena Mercy Medical - Aurora • Advocate Childrens Hospital - Park Ridge • Lurie Children's Hospital - Chicago • Rush Childrens Hospital - Chicago • Shriner Hospital for Children - Chicago • Ronald McDonald Children's Hospital - Maywood
Many community members and local business contribute to the annual effort. The Batavia Moose donates its banquet hall for the assembling of baskets. Items come in from Dollar Tree in Batavia and Five Below in Geneva. Funds have been raised by Kohl's in Batavia, Feece Oil of Batavia, Norix Group in West Chicago and Iloca of Aurora. Donation are collected all year round.
"Thanks to the staff at Delnor and Lutheran General, along with family, friends, many prayers and possibly that basket filled with 'hope', Cameron celebrated his 21st birthday on February 14," Premer said. "Miracles do happen."