Paying It Forward At St. Jane Frances Daycare Center

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Elizabeth Calvert is a special and inspirational 5-year-old girl with life-threatening health issues.

She was born without a spleen and doesn’t have any immunity against everyday germs, which creates a big challenge to remain healthy, let alone being able to play with other children.

To combat this, she receives penicillin on a daily basis to protect her from infection. On top of that, her mother, Bridget, also has provided her with weekly infusions since Elizabeth was diagnosed with common variable immunodeficiency (CVID) in 2018. CVID renders her unable to create antibodies.

Just attending school, something so many take for granted, can be a challenge for Elizabeth. Despite all of the precautions, she was hospitalized four times during the first four months of the 2018 school year for the “common cold.”

It was this struggle to attend school regularly that spurred a tremendous amount of generosity and compassion from all of Elizabeth’s classmates and one family in particular.

To get back into class with her friends, Elizabeth started wearing a lightweight linen mask that has a special filter and is designed to fit a child’s face comfortably. The mask is also easy to wash and wear, and Elizabeth said it is “like wearing a sock.”

Before Elizabeth’s return to St. Jane Frances, Bridget Calvert posted on the school’s Facebook page explaining Elizabeth’s precarious health and the need for her to wear a mask to stave off any potential germs. Bridget asked the parents to explain to their kids why Elizabeth has to wear a mask.

Bridget was nervous about making her plea to other parents, because she didn’t want to offend or inconvenience them or their kids.

A school administrator called and asked Bridget about the custom-made mask. A classmate’s family — Maestro O’Harding and his husband, Michael — wanted to donate enough of these masks for all of Elizabeth’s classmates and teacher.

“I didn’t think a sweet little girl should be made to feel different because she wears a mask,” Maestro said. “It isn’t fair.”

The O’Hardings do not want any recognition for their generosity toward Elizabeth. They love the inclusiveness and support of the diverse school community and simply wanted to support a little girl who they say is “lovely and innocent” and shouldn’t be left out because of her immunodeficiency.

As for the other children, they are not only excited and happy to help their friend, but they also ask to wear the masks and feel like they are superheroes when they do.

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