Lombardi: Wishes Come True
When college student Branden Lombardi offered to buy supplies for the Children's Cancer Center at Phoenix Children's Hospital, staff expected him to drop by with a few carefully selected items from the Center's lengthy "wish list." In March, he surprised staff by delivering everything on the list.
"Needless to say, I was totally overwhelmed," said Renee Hunte, Director, Children's Cancer Center. "All the stuff he gave us is just incredible." The Center is now fully stocked with movies, toys, books and craft items to help children pass the long hours during treatment. Two Sony Playstations will go to the bone marrow transplant rooms scheduled to open this summer.
"Those patients have to stay confined for weeks, even months -- and during those long periods, these Playstations provide entertainment," Hunte said.
Lombardi is all too familiar with the tedium of sitting still during cancer treatments. Diagnosed with a form of bone cancer during his senior year of high school, he endured chemotherapy treatments at an adult hospital eight hours a day, five days a week. With a single television set offering the only diversion, boredom became an unexpected side effect of his illness.
"I thought there's got to be something to do to keep me from being bored," he said. He began bringing a Nintendo from home and playing video games all day long.
In 2001, Lombardi created the Branden Lombardi Foundation to improve the quality of life for cancer patients. An annual golf tournament, along with individual donations, provide funds for projects such as the one just completed for Phoenix Children's.
Though he was never treated at an pediatric facility, Phoenix Children's Hospital seemed an obvious target for his generosity.
"I've been a pediatric patient," he said. "I can relate to these kids."