Jen Rubino, founder of Cards for Hospitalized Kids (CFHK), a charitable organization that spreads hope and joy through handmade cards to over 40 000 seriously ill hospitalized children across the United States. Jen, who attended Maine South High School in Park Ridge, Illinois and George Washington University in Washington D.C, says her own experiences as a ‘hospitalized kid’ inspired her to start CFHK.
The founder who began gymnastics at age four, quickly developed a love for the sport and began competing at a young age as she dreamed of one day going to the Olympics. She was a competitive gymnast training six days a week and after experiencing pain which she assumed was from an injury at 11 years old in 2006, she visited the doctor, where she was diagnosed with a connective tissue and bone disease changing her life instantly.
“I was forced to end my career in gymnastics, began treatment for my condition and had to adjust to surgeries, treatments, pain and hospitals being a regular part of my life. I have since undergone over 20 surgeries and has frequently been in and out of hospital with my experiences in the hospital showing me how difficult it is to be a child or teen who is hospitalized or seriously ill,” says the founder. Jen says hospitalized children often feel forgotten, sad, lonely and isolated and miss out on many of the little things in life that most children take for granted, like having lunch with friends at school or having a sleepover. She says in February 2011, she was in the intensive care unit in the hospital recovering from a difficult surgery where doctors had to break her hip in five places and then completely re-construct and re-position it.
“I was in extreme pain, had lost a great deal of blood, was not doing well and I just wanted to go to school, hang out with friends and be a normal child. During that difficult time, I received a handmade card from a hospital volunteer that really brightened my day and this inspired me to found CFHK soon after so I could do that for other children,” says Jen.
As the founder of CFHK, she says she is able to combine her own experience as a patient and her desire to help others in a way that allows her to help children across America who are facing what she has faced. Jen says she is amazed and inspired by all of the individuals and groups across the USA and world that send cards to her organization and how together they are impacting thousands of hospitalized children.
This founder has earned me many honours and awards for her service efforts making a difference to thousands of hospitalized kids. Cards are delivered to hospitals monthly and Jen has recruited many world and Olympic gymnasts such as Aly Raisman and Nastia Liukin as well as celebrities such as Lauren Conrad to be involved with her charity.
Celebrity supporters help my efforts by donating autographs for hospitalized children and by helping spread the word on social media. Lifting others up through CFHK has allowed me to lift myself up too and I know it is the same for everyone who gets involved with the organization. Our charity has achieved impact across the USA with thousands of children at hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses receiving cards,” says the founder.