Hospice grants Pottstown boy’s wish at Comic Con in Oaks
By Gary Puleo, The Times Herald
UPPER PROVIDENCE >> It took a lot of twists and turns but Foxy arrived at The Great Philadelphia Comic Con on Sunday, complete with his signature eyepatch, to surprise Camryn Cruz and round out the boy’s “perfect day.”
The red fox is 9-year-old Camryn’s favorite character from the “Five Nights at Freddy’s” video game, but this is one mammal known to keep an exceedingly low profile, which made tracking him down difficult for the folks at Crossroads Hospice.
Still, the Plymouth Meeting facility’s staff that had arranged for Camryn, who has been fighting bone cancer for much of his young life, to spend a day at Comic Con through its year-round show of benevolence known as “Gift of a Day,” was intent on finding a suitable Foxy costume for the Pottstown boy.
Crossroads volunteer manager Kimberly Mumper had driven to Maryland to collect the costume from the gracious college student who had offered to make it when she heard about the dearth of Foxy getups out there.
“You just can’t find this character anywhere, so I reached out online, asking is somebody could make a costume, and I heard from this girl, so I went to meet her,” Mumper said. “Camryn just touched all our hearts so we wanted to make sure that we could do this for him.”
Camryn had barely come through the doors of the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center at Oaks Sunday morning, with his family, including mom Darshann Singleton, stepdad Cory Dennis, grandparents and siblings, by his side, when Mumper surprised him with the Foxy head, which the delighted boy insisted on donning immediately.
“He likes that,” noted Dennis, smiling at Camryn.
The “Gift of a Day” program was designed to give patients one perfect day, explained Crossroads social worker Eve Freberge.
“We ask everyone what would their last wish be, and Camryn loves video games and he loves Foxy,” she said. “The social workers coordinate the program. There was a lot of teamwork for Camryn’s gift.”
Just as Camryn’s perfect day, which Crossroads granted in partnership with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where Camryn is being treated, meant a visit to Comic Con, the requests are as varied as the patients that Crossroads Hospice serves, Freberge noted.
“They really run the gamut. Last week we had a gentleman, and it was very important for him to have grooming, so we had a professional groomer go in and give him a shave and haircut. That was something that was important to him because he can’t get out anymore. We don’t have a large budget like say, Make a Wish, but with pediatrics we work in tandem with organizations that grant wishes.”
Camryn had actually been granted a trip by the Make a Wish Foundation but had been too sick to go, noted Freberge, who explained that children are exempt from certain “Gift of a Day” rules.
“For the program, there is a diagnosis of six months or less to live, however there is a caveat with pediatrics. Camryn is currently undergoing treatment, whereas if you’re an adult you can’t be undergoing what they would consider aggressive treatments. With pediatrics there might be (medical) trials and other things, but on the other hand Camryn is being supported through hospice and palliative care to make sure that he is comfortable while undergoing treatments.”
Chris Wertz, president of Great Conventions, LLC, presenters of The Great Philadelphia Comic Con, said he couldn’t be happier to have Camryn and his family as guests for the day.
“We’ve had weddings and other things but never had a request like this,” he said. “But who wouldn’t be glad to help? Kids get in free as long as they’re with an adult, and the whole idea of Comic Con is to have fun. We love that we were asked to do this.”