By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

schachtelOn their first day in the ICU waiting area at the Medical City McKinney in Texas, Adyn and Adysn Schachtel paid little attention to their surroundings.

That’s because the children were more concerned about their father Andrew, a regular exercising, egg white-eating 43-year-old who’d inexplicably suffered a stroke following an early-morning walk.

Fortunately, by the second day, the doctors told them and their mother Vanessa that he would survive the ordeal.

Knowing their dad was out of immediate danger, Adyn, 12, and Adysn, 9, began noticing the waiting room where they’d been spending a lot of time.

Frankly, they didn’t like what they saw.

“It was bare white with these really uncomfortable chairs,’ recalled Adyn, an impressively well-spoken young man. “There wasn’t anything for kids to do and the only TV in the room was always playing really dark TV news shows.”

Wouldn’t it be great, he and his sister started thinking, if the room could be made more welcoming, more kid-friendly?

“The waiting room wasn’t a pleasant experience for them and they wanted to do something so it wouldn’t be that way for other children,” said Andrew Schachtel, who was in the ICU for a week and has since returned to work, although he still does cognitive and physical rehabilitation.

Unlike many people, Adyn and Adysn didn’t quickly drop the idea once something else caught their attention. Both attend the Alcuin Montessori School in Dallas, where students are encouraged to become “global citizens” who turn challenges into positive experiences and work to make the world a better place.

With encouragement from their parents, they started contacting friends and family members for support and also set up a web page for donations on the crowd-sourcing site youcaring.com.

“When something like this happens, people always ask how they can help,” Vanessa said. “So we made the help happen.”

On their page, they described their father’s story and explained how they wanted to help others by turning his stroke into an opportunity to do good.

“Starting this fundraiser made me feel like I did something big,” Adyn said. “Sometimes people think kids can’t do something big.”

Adyn and Adysn pose with Dianne Tubbs, volunteer auxiliary president for Medical Center McKinney in Texas, after the children presented their idea for a child-friendly ICU waiting area.

Adyn and Adysn pose with Dianne Tubbs, volunteer auxiliary president for Medical Center McKinney in Texas, after the children presented their idea for a child-friendly ICU waiting area.

To better illustrate what they had in mind, Adysn drew a picture of what the siblings envisioned the renovated waiting area would look like. Her drawing includes an area with a small table and children’s books, iPads, room for some bean bag chairs, a white board with markers and erasers and, of course, a TV playing only kid-friendly shows.

“Our ICU waiting area is geared toward adults, so having the Adyn and Adysn, present ideas to help make the area more comfortable from a kid’s perspective is refreshing,” said Ernest C. Lynch, III, chief executive of Medical City McKinney. “We were very impressed with the idea and immediately knew with the help of our volunteer auxiliary that we wanted to make it happen.”

The hospital actually used Adysn’s drawings as a template when designing what will be called the Schachtel Kids Corner in the ICU waiting area.

During a recent volunteer awards banquet at the hospital, Adyn and Adysn made a short presentation describing what the room will look like when it officially opens this month. They also presented the hospital with a check for the $3,000 they collected through their fund-raising efforts to pay for a portion of the renovation.

“The family is so special in their ability to think of other people in time of their crisis,” said Tori Owens, vice president of operations and hospital volunteer liaison. “The auxiliary is in the process of making their vision a reality.”

Their father said he has been overwhelmed by what his children have accomplished.

“It warmed my heart,” Andrew said. “It was bigger than me; they did it to help everyone else.”