BETHEL — Team Hailey’s Hugs, a local nonprofit created by the Steward family in honor of 9-year-old Hailey Steward, currently fighting her second battle with leukemia, has reached its goal of $12,000, a spokesman said.

The money will be donated to the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland to purchase 30 refrigerators for rooms where children are being treated for cancer.

At the beginning of the month, the Steward family said they were not so sure they were going to reach their goal. They had been fundraising since February, partnering with the Gilead Volunteer Fire Department. In the first week of September, they still had $2,300 to go.

So, Tabaitha Steward decided they would present the $9,700 they had to the hospital, “because it had been so long.” However, Hailey fell ill during the week they were supposed to go, so the presentation was canceled.

While waiting for Hailey to recover, other donations came in. A family also fighting cancer donated $100; $200 was donated by the company where Hailey’s father is employed; and $2,000 was donated by Remarkable Homes in honor of Jeffery Davis, a boy who lost his fight with leukemia last November.

On Sept. 22, the Steward family reached its goal of $12,000.

Most people don’t usually think about refrigerators when they consider the trials of a hospital stay, but Tabaitha Steward, Hailey’s mother, said having one in each room will make a huge difference for families staying there.

“When you’re stuck in a hospital for a long period of time, it gets expensive,” Steward said. “Parents have to purchase their own food from the hospital cafeteria. There are times children are isolated because their (immunity) levels are so low, and the parents can’t leave the room, so it’s nice to have a fridge in there. A lot of other hospitals, like the (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute)  in Boston, have fridges in the rooms. If family and friends bring in food for the family, it’s nice to have a place to put it.” 

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