PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — If you’ve ever had to stay at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, chances are you’ve spent time in The Izzy Room.
That room became a home away from home for Shannon Hegy and her husband while their son Carter was in the hospital two years ago, battling bacterial meningitis.
The room is an escape for families going through the unthinkable, and it’s creation was inspired by one brave little girl.
Isabelle Marie Wohlrab, affectionately known as “Izzy,” was taken from this world by cancer at just three-and-a-half years old, but her memory is alive and well in a beautiful purple room on Hasbro’s 5th floor.
It was a nearly two-year labor of love launched by her parents, Tina and Kyle, almost immediately after she died.
“We had two choices: You crawl in a hole and you just try to hide it and move on, and go about your business or you try to embrace what we had in having her for three-and-a-half years, which was an amazing gift,” Tina said.
They wanted to honor Izzy by giving back to the place that helped them during their daughter’s stay.
Drawing from their own experience, they knew exactly what families needed: An escape from their hospital room.
“I wanted a place where I could come and sit and cry or just breathe,” Tina said. “That was really the goal, a place where parents, siblings, grandparents, could go and be comfortable while here.”
“We didn’t want it to be a memorial,” Kyle explained. “So some of the pictures around of Izzy, we try to keep subtle.”
The Wohlrabs know all too well the impact it’s having thanks to an abundance of notes that families leave behind in a purple notebook, which is always sitting on a side table inside the Izzy Room.
One of those notes was written by Shannon Hegy.
“If not for the Izzy room, we would have had to spend Thanksgiving in our cramped hospital room,” Shannon’s note reads. “Being in here made it feel less like a ‘hospital holiday’ — just one of the many times this room has helped us through our long hospital stay with our baby boy.”
“When I hear families and people tell me they walk into this room and this space and feel arms wrap around them, like I know that’s her,” Tina said.
Now, even more families will get to know Izzy’s name, thanks to the “Izzy Space,” a brand new surgical waiting room on the hospital’s 2nd floor, which opened in August.
Izzy would have turned 11 years old this month. But while her life was cut far too short, her impact will be felt for years to come.
The Izzy Foundation has already heard from other hospitals around the country, interested in creating “Izzy Spaces” of their own.
The foundation will be holding its signature fundraising event of the year, The Izzy Gala, on Sept. 28 at the Graduate Hotel in Providence.
Those interested in attending can purchase tickets or donate by visiting the foundation’s website.