3-Year-Old with Leukemia Gets Huge Birthday Surprise Before Hurricane Irma

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September 13, 2017Sep 13, 2017

When Hurricane Irma threatened to ruin Willow Stine's third birthday party, the hospital staff in St. Petersburg, Florida, came to her rescue.

Willow was diagnosed with leukemia on Friday after a routine doctor's visit, this was just two days before the storm hit. She is now with her mother at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital here preparing for chemotherapy.

As the hurricane came in, Willow’s mother, Jennifer Stine, 39, realized that she’d brought nothing with her to the hospital to celebrate Willow’s birthday that weekend. She had no presents, cake or decorations.

Willow’s dad, Shaun, and 4-year-old sister, Eden, were at home in Wesley Chapel, Florida, 45 miles away.

“Friday was the scariest moment of my life, and the hurricane on Sunday only compounded it,” Jennifer told People. “I didn’t think that I could take much more. It was overwhelming.”

Nurses at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg came together to make Willow’s birthday a very special one, even when their own homes were threatened by Hurricane Irma. 

The nurses ordered a cake, blew up balloons and taped “Happy Birthday” decorations to the walls. The nurses then searched through toys donated to the hospital and found a bubble machine, Play-Doh, books, games and a doll to wrap up for Willow.

“Watching Willow open her gifts helped us to forget what a scary situation we were in (with the hurricane),” registered nurse Lindsay Jones, 36, told PEOPLE. “Every time she opened something she said, ‘I’ve always wanted this,’ and that made us all laugh and smile. It was the perfect distraction to what was happening outside.”

"When everyone walked in and Willow began opening gifts, the look on her mom’s face was priceless," a spokeswoman from the hospital told ABC News. "They have had some of the worst moments of their life in that past 72 hours, so the fact they were able to take a break from focusing on her diagnosis, brought so much emotion to her family."

"It was an honor to celebrate Willow and provide some joy to this family."

In related news, here are some crazy lies you shouldn’t believe about Hurricane Irma.