Maddie Schieve was just 8 years old when she was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare cancer that grows in the bones or soft tissues. The tumor in her chest made breathing difficult, but fortunately, it had not spread to her bones or other organs.

During chemotherapy, she stayed many times at the American Family Children’s Hospital. The Child Program there helped Maddie and her family cope with the stress of this challenging time. To show their appreciation, the Schieve family selected the Child Life Program for a $25,000 award funded by proceeds from The Ride, a bicycling benefit for cancer research and treatment and the University of Wisconsin.

The Child Life Program employs nearly a dozen specialists trained in child development to help patients manage the fear and anxiety often associated with medical treatment. These specialists use a variety of strategies to reduce patients’ perception of pain and provide diversions to make the experience as stress-free and enjoyable as possible. The program also manages several playrooms and offers support services for siblings and resources to ease patients’ anxiety about appearance-altering disease or procedures.

All these services are provided at no cost to families.

The Child Life Program was an important part of Maddie’s treatment.

“Whenever I was going through a hard time, they would always give me hope,” Maddie says.