The ripple effect: Wasson family gives back to Arkansas Children’s Hospital

Kenny and Jerilyn Wasson created the One Heart Playground in honor of their daughter, Emma.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — When Emma was born in August 2012, she was rushed to Arkansas Children’s Hospital and was diagnosed with two congenital heart defects and a genetic disorder called Turner Syndrome. The combination of those disorders had never been seen in anyone alive before.

“We felt like Arkansas Children’s Hospital was like family to us,” says Jerilyn Wasson. “We spent most of Emma’s first two years in the hospital, so we became really close to the doctors and nurses.”

Arkansas Children’s goes above and beyond to help spread joy to children, including their annual Festival of Stars Toy Drive.

“The toy drive is just so important to bring a little bit of joy to those kids,” says Jerilyn. “That means the world to them, but it also means the world to the parents.”

Christmas has always felt like an important time for the Wasson’s. Emma was in critical condition, but on Christmas Eve her body stopped draining nutrients and she was given a second chance.

“When you are thinking about donating, you are thinking about the immediate need,” says Jerilyn. “You don’t recognize the ripple effect that it is going to have, and most of those families go on to give back and do more for the hospital because of what they have done for us.”

The Wasson’s built a completely handicapped-accessible playground called One Heart Playground in North Little Rock.

“We were impacted by Arkansas Children’s Hospital saving our daughter’s heart and life, and we wanted to help other families have a place that they could experience play,” says Jerilyn.

“When you are thinking about giving, just know that amount will keep growing,” says Jerilyn. 

Make a monetary donation and learn more about the Festival of Stars Toy Drive here.