Granting a simple wish

After relapsing with cancer this past year, nine-year -old Riley Philpot had one wish: she wanted to receive as many “Get Well” cards in the mail as possible from the mailman upon her return home from the hospital.

When Jennifer Miranda-Velasquez, dean of the College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions, heard of Philpot’s wish, she contacted Professor Stacey Singer-Leshinsky who presented the idea to sophomore Anitha Naduparambil, president of the Physician Assistant Association.

“The PA Association decided to go full-force with the cause. The PA Association is comprised of pre-PA students who are getting ready to enter the professional phase of their career. They’re learning about what it means to be a PA,” said Singer-Leshinsky.

St. John’s University offers a two-year, full-time program for students who wish to be Physician Assistants. The program offers academic and clinical training for those accepted.

“One of the things that a PA does is provide care and comfort to others. Doing this project was right up the alley of the Physician Assistant profession,” said Singer- Leshinsky.

“Through this project, we were able to do a wonderful thing for a very deserving and strong little girl.They were able to provide love and care and support – all things a Physician Assistant does.”

In an effort to make cards for Riley, the association placed flyers throughout campus to advertise a bake sale they had organized on Nov. 2.

The flyers encouraged students to buy a card for Riley or bring their own. They had originally planned to hold a bake sale to raise funds for their organization.

However, after embarking on the quest of amassing as many well-wishing cards as possible, they redirected the goal of the bake sale to incorporate getting more cards for Riley.

For $1, cards were sold and students were able to write Riley a message and sign their card.

Students also had the opportunity to bring in their own cards that same day and they had a drop box at the sale.

It attracted many students who bought and filled out cards for Riley with warm messages, and pictures, wishing her well.
Naduparambil estimated they collected upward of 400 cards for Riley.

She added that the PA Association plans to allocate a large portion of the funds raised that day toward purchasing Riley a gift in addition to her many cards.

Riley’s parents update a CarePage, which is Web site used to keep friends and family updated on Riley’s condition.

Her parents wrote the following on Sept. 29: “Riley doesn’t yet understand how many people have come to find her faith and perseverance encouraging.

“The cards have been a physical representation of the prayers, which so many are saying on her behalf. We have all enjoyed seeing the mailbox fill with cards each day. Your time and effort has meant a lot.

“The house is filled with your well wishes for Riley and our family. Today she was disappointed when she got home since no cards were in the mailbox.

“Little did she realize the mailman left the bundle on the front porch as they would not fit in the mailbox. Her face lit up with excitement when she saw over 100 cards today alone!”

The PA Association seeks to not only provide its students with support, but also equip them with the necessary tools of navigating their profession of choice following graduation.

“The PA Association serves as a mentoring support system for those who seek to pursue the field as a profession, post-St. John’s University because the PA Program is very difficult and competitive,” said Naduparambil.

“We aim to give the members a real feel for what being a Physician’s Assistant is in the field.”

The PA Association meets every two weeks in B75 during Common Hour in St. Albert’s Hall.

They are still collecting cards for Riley and students are encouraged to drop cards off at any upcoming meetings.