Six-year-old Mack Shieder and his four-year-old sister Scout served as marshals of this year’s Angel Tree parade at the Medical University of South Carolina. It was a well deserved honor.
Their mother Laura Shieder, a nurse at MUSC, described what they’ve been through. “Mack was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 19 months old. He went through 3½ years of chemotherapy and got into remission,” Shieder said. “Then about 11 months later, he relapsed and had a bone marrow transplant, and Scout was a perfect match, and was his donor. He’s doing well today.”
He and Scout looked right at home on the lead float as they rode through the MUSC campus.
A few floats back, another mother spoke about her child.
Catherine Gadsden’s daughter Shirley Allen died of cancer a few months ago. Allen was a longtime employee and volunteer at MUSC. She and her husband routinely donated the use of floats from their float rental company to the Angel Tree parade.
Allen’s mother and other relatives rode on one of the floats during the parade, along with a decorated tree that the MUSC grounds crew donated to be planted along the parade route.
“It’s awesome, simply awesome,” Gadsden said of the way MUSC was honoring the memory of her daughter.
Family was on the mind of another float-rider, MUSC’s president, David Cole, M.D.,
“This is a characterization of the family that MUSC represents. We celebrate together,” Cole said.
There was something big to celebrate. MUSC’s contribution to the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program, which provides toys and necessities to families going through a difficult time during the holiday season, included gifts for about 1,600 people, along with money to help buy gifts for others.
Salvation Army Major Thomas Richmond was on hand for the parade. “In our world of entitlement today, a lot of kids don’t expect anything. When they see these things that the folks here at MUSC have given to them, there will be smiles all over the place."