Each year, thousands of children receive treatment for cancer, and one Carmel family is doing its part to make a terrifying experience a little more comfortable. The Halevi family created the nonprofit Sheets from Home to provide donated kid-friendly, colorful bedsheets to replace the plain ones often found in medical facilities. The Halevis know the comfort it can bring to a child, because they’ve been there.
Tamir Halevi, 10, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2010, not long after his mother, Ya-el, had battled melanoma and cervical cancer. “You reflect back on that journey and you think about the things that made a difference,” said Asaf Halevi, Tamir’s father and Ya-el’s husband. “When he got admitted for his first inpatient stay, my wife actually took off his boring, white hospital sheets, and recognizing that he’s going to be there for many months to come, she put on fun, kid-friendly sheets to try to put a smile on his face.”
The experience led the family to believe that fun bed sheets could create a more home-like environment for other children battling cancer. Since its launching, Sheets from Home has donated approximately 6,000 sheets to several hospitals in the U.S. and beyond.
Natives of Israel, the Havlevis moved around the East Coast before settling in Carmel to be near Asaf’s job with Eli Lilly. The family has a large network of friends and supporters who have helped Sheets from Home grow beyond the Midwest.
“For me it was a dream. It was something that I was hoping to do. Sitting here today, I’m speechless,” Ya-el said. “It’s a team effort. So I’m very thankful for all the good people who helped us make this a reality, and they keep supporting us. I’m very thankful for being able to give back and do more.”
The family frequently visits Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital to donate sheets. They spent much of their time at the facility during Tamir’s battle with cancer. Child life specialist Erin Draminski plays a major role in helping deliver the sheets to patients at the hospital.
“It’s really an incredible organization that is very personal,” Draminski said. “That’s what really hits home with families, is personal items and personal things, and the fact that someone else is thinking of something that these families aren’t thinking of. I think (that makes) all the difference in their day and their journey.”
Draminski prepares the sheets for children coming in for a procedure or being admitted to the hospital.
“It’s a little thing that sets the tone for the future, the rest of their stay,” Draminski said.
Tamir is now cancer-free and a student at College Wood Elementary. The young cancer survivor often helps deliver sheets and raise awareness.
“It took away all the annoying things, except for the things I couldn’t control,” said Tamir, reflecting on his own experience in the hospital when his parents first gave him fun bed sheets.
Ya-el said the organization’s goal is to put a smile on the faces of young patients going through what they have faced as a family.
“I’m not a doctor. I don’t know how to make it better,” Ya-el said. “But I know that this helped me, and hopefully it’s going to help others.”
College Wood Elementary collected 221 bed sheets Nov. 14 -18 for kids fighting cancer, the largest single donation collected for Sheets from Home.
During the week, Tamir Halevi spoke to his classmates about cancer and how they could help other kids feel more at home. For every bedsheet donated, students wrote letters and drew pictures for a child in need.