Dayton Mall Love Locks

Dayton Mall Love Locks
appeared in the Dayton Daily News 17 September 2015

By Susan Gnann

For nearly a year now, the Dayton Mall has been supporting their very own “Love Locks” program. Most have heard about the trend in Europe where couples in love unite themselves by writing their names on a padlock and locking them to a bridge or other structure. The leadership at the Dayton Mall decided to do something similar. You may have noticed the “Big Heart” metal structure located in the mall. Each month, a different Miami Valley area nonprofit is the beneficiary of 100% of the sales of “Love Locks” padlocks. For the month of September, it is the Dayton Chapter of A Special Wish Foundation (ASW).

We couldn’t imagine a better spokesperson for this fundraiser than Danielle who received her wish to go to Give Kids The World Village and Universal Studios this past June. At a time when teenagers are worried about padlocks on their lockers and first loves, Danielle has had to focus on her cancer treatment.

After weeks of pain and when an abrupt growth on her hip appeared, Danielle was taken to the pediatrician on New Year’s Eve 2013. What was supposed to be a fun night with a party at their home turned out to be one Danielle would like to forget.

“It was so scary,” remembers Danielle, “and I was really sad. I asked my parents if I was going to die.” She cried for hours, but insisted that the New Year’s Eve party go on!

Her diagnosis was Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare primary bone cancer that accounts for only one percent of childhood cancers. This type of cancer can be extremely painful.

“It was quick,” remembers Ellen Baldridge, Danielle’s mother. “The tumor on her right hip seemed to grow overnight.” Tumor removal involved a very invasive process of a hip replacement and partial bone graft of part of her pelvis. So, not only has she battled the cancer, but also the after-effects of hip replacement and subsequent rehab. Very motivated to “get back in the game”, Danielle worked hard.

“I couldn’t ride the bus with my friends,” said Danielle. “That and the nosebleeds during school were the hardest part.” She can also no longer participate in sports. But, she still wears a sweet smile and can sport a pixie haircut like few can.

Danielle “grew up a lot” said Ellen, “She seems wiser and more mature.” At the age of fourteen, she has been through so much, but she mentioned feeling like she really knows who she is, what she can endure and who her true friends are. That is a feeling many people never know. To say that she was blessed by her experience is an overstatement, but the Baldridge family feels that so many good things happened to them throughout this crisis.

Many friends and family helped so much, and some sweet memories were made, too. There were even favorite points during the treatment. Danielle and her mom found a new love in cable cooking shows and they regularly transformed the chemotherapy transfusion room into their own picnic area.

Her Special Wish to go to Universal Studios was a highlight for the entire family and helped motivate her to work hard through her treatments and rehab. Danielle is the youngest of three and her siblings are both in college, so a family trip was the perfect thing to do to get them all together to create happy memories after a time period scarred with fear and anxiety.

“The food at Give Kids the World Village was really good,” Danielle remarked. And there was something for everyone on her wish trip to the Orlando area.

When asked to be the ambassador for the Dayton Mall “Love Locks” program, Danielle did not hesitate to help. After a brief photo shoot at the mall, Danielle and her family have been encouraging friends and family to honor their loved ones with a “Love Locks” padlock and to support the Dayton Chapter of A Special Wish Foundation.

All you have to do is visit the customer service desk in front of the Big Heart near the entrance to JC Penney. Each padlock is only $5 and 100% of the proceeds go directly to helping grant the wishes of Dayton area children through A Special Wish Foundation. Also, for each padlock purchased, you will enter a drawing for a Dayton Mall gift certificate.

For those who would like to participate but are unable to make it to the Dayton Mall to purchase a padlock, just text LOCKS to 71777 and make a $5 donation. At the end of September, Danielle will honor those donations by hanging a padlock on the Big Heart.

The Dayton Mall is located at 2700 Miamisburg-Centerville Road and this campaign will run for the entire month of September. For more information you can visit www.daytonmall.com or www.aspecialwish.org.