I reflect fondly on the nights reading bedtime stories with my two boys. I loved watching them scurry and giggle in their pajamas as I asked them to go pick out two or three of their favorite books from their bookshelf.
by One Blessed Momma
"RATING: FIVE STARS"
Without knowing the backstory, I read this to my son. He was in awe of the gorgeous illustrations bringing every page alive. The story seems to tell a wonderful story of two people who meet in a dreamscape and quickly become friends. Avery is starting to lose her colors so she goes to look for them. Along the way she finds Dalton. He volunteers to help her find her colors. They share in a wonderful dream and play together.
After I read the true story of Avery & Dalton, I went back and reread the book. This touching story brought tears to my eyes. This is a beautiful story for kids and adults alike. Life is such a phenomenal gift we all have – to be able to share that gift with someone else through another’s heartbreak is the ultimate present. This is a book that I will be thinking about for a very long time!
Written by: Zoe Coelho, HHS Press Staff Reporter
Avery’s Gift: An Unforgettable Experience for Avery Toole
Among the busy floors of Boston Children’s Hospital, bustling with physicians, was a room that held a young, five-year-old girl lying tightly wrapped in a cocoon of tubes. Although uncertain of their purpose, she found them fascinating despite their frequent inflictions of pain on her body. Nonetheless, this would not deter her.
Kernels of optimism littered her room, from her nightstand holding her favorite juice, Orangina, to the mechanical “Berlin” Heart that supported her which read “Bruchgefahr,” or “handle with care.”
Astonishingly, this grueling road of determination and sacrifice that fueled her recovery would not even be the most memorable part of Avery Toole’s journey. Instead, she viewed life through “rose-colored glasses” focusing on the serviceable nature of the medical staff who tried to maximize her comfort. Yet her family recalls the ordeal dissimilarly, “I’m glad that she was so young and that she doesn’t remember at least feeling different from other kids.” Cheryl Toole, Avery’s mother explained, “Growing up, she had to be in the hospital a lot, and she was just tired and out of breath, without the stamina to keep up with basic childhood things like running or playing.”
Almost as exhausting was waiting for a viable remedy. Avery’s parents opted to be notified once a matching heart was found, instead of being alerted for every potential donor. Their patience finally paid off once they received an abrupt phone call at three o’clock in the morning from Avery’s Cardiologist, Dr. Betsy Blume.
Click here to continue reading: https://hhspress.org/13214/features/averys-gift-an-unforgettable-experience-for-avery-toole/
Shorecrest Preparatory School
St. Petersburg, Florida
by: Raffi Darrow, Ebytes Editor
Warning: sensitive subject matter.
Avery was born on April 21, 2004. Hours after she was born, it was discovered that she had a very complex congenital heart defect known as HLHS. Avery underwent her first open heart surgery at five days old, and over the next several years had an additional eight open heart surgeries, four cardiac arrests and was ultimately placed on a mechanical heart pump at age five for terminal heart failure. She was unable to run and play or even walk up several stairs without being breathless and blue. She experienced life from the sidelines, often sitting alone at play dates or birthday parties watching other children do what she was unable to because of her failing heart.
Dalton was a perfectly healthy boy who had every reason to live a long prosperous life. In August of 2009, at eight years old, Dalton lost his life tragically in a biking accident. The lives of these two children, 800 miles apart, were unlikely to ever intersect. But on August 6, 2009, Avery received a most precious gift - Dalton’s heart.
Now, Avery is a healthy, vibrant high schooler with a sparkling personality whose vivacious spirit and passion for life lights up a room and the lives of all who know her. Her family and Dalton’s family have remained close and often vacation together when possible.
It so happens Avery’s father is a fraternity brother of Shorecrest parent Jon Hoefer. Jon decided to share Avery and Dalton’s magical story of loss and love in an upcoming children’s picture book.
Through dreamy watercolors and poetic phrasing, Hoefer’s latest book, “Avery’s Gift,” tells the story of little Avery who wakes up in the middle of the night with a serious problem! With the help of a fox, an owl and a boy named Dalton, Avery goes on a quest... and finds many meaningful things along the way. “Avery’s Gift” is reminiscent of fables told long ago and shares a timeless story of love, friendship and true colors.
Mr. Hoefer shared an earlier version of his story with fourth graders this school year, and spoke with them about his creative process, writing, publishing and more. The Chargers had so many questions about how an author takes pages of notes and turns them into a final product. The students also gave valuable feedback on the book’s pictures and content, unaware of the meaningful backstory involved.
The official launch date for the beautiful picture book is June 1, 2021. Learn more, preorder a copy, or view a video of Avery and Dalton on the “Avery’s Gift” website.
Jon Hoefer is an author, illustrator, and art director, and has been involved with the printing and publishing industry for over 20 years. He is a graduate of Syracuse University’s Visual and Performing Arts program, majoring in illustration. His illustrative work has been published in national newspapers and magazines. He also illustrated “Lilly Lou Makes a New Friend” and “Lilly Lou Goes to Washington, D.C.” the first two books in a series by former Headmaster Mike Murphy.