6-Year-Old Supports Healing Garden to Give Kids a Chance to Go Outdoors

Just as Brooke Bronner and her 6-year-old son, Mason, were finishing up a standard visit to the family pediatrician, the doctor made an observation: the skin beneath Mason’s fingernails looked unusually pale. He ordered a blood test that revealed an unexpected diagnosis. Mason had leukemia. The Bronner family soon found themselves at Children’s National, where they immediately began a series of clinical visits, treatments, and tests. They spent days, and sometimes weeks, at the hospital as Mason received chemotherapy. 

“You live on a 24-hour horizon,” said Brooke. “Each day the doctors tell you what your child’s blood counts are, what seems to be working well, and what may not be working at all. The whole time you are thinking, ‘How can this be happening to me?’”

The Bronner family was fortunate to have a strong network of family and friends who regularly checked up on Mason to see how he was progressing. One of their neighbors, Heather Florance, regularly visited Mason and showed deep compassion for the entire family.

During this time, Mason learned about a special project that Heather and her husband, Andy Florance, were undertaking to help children like him who spent lots of time in the hospital – an outdoor Healing Garden to give children and their families a chance to safely enjoy the healing nature of the outdoors. Heather and Andy were leading a fundraising campaign to make the dream of a Healing Garden, and Mason decided he wanted to help.

In between rounds of receiving chemotherapy, Mason began sketching a character called “Scribble” who dreamed of becoming a “Drawing” when he grew up. His sketches turned into a storybook, and a nurse helped him make copies. By selling his book to nurses and others, he raised $46 that was donated to the Healing Garden campaign. 

“The Healing Garden will be a tremendous resource for the children and families who are treated at Children’s National,” Brooke said. “Mason’s gift is a small token of our entire family’s appreciation for the care we received there. The staff were all so amazing and everyone did everything they could to make the experience as positive as possible.”

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