As part of Major League Soccer's Kick Childhood Cancer month, the Portland Timbers and Stand Together teamed up with a company for a literal one-of-a-kind present for two strong kids.
A Doll Like Me is a nonprofit that believes every child with a limb difference, body type, medical conditions, birthmarks or other differences should have the opportunity to own a doll that reflects what they look like. The Timbers became the first sports organization to partner with them and then worked with the Children’s Cancer Association in Portland to provide two custom dolls for, Heaven, age five (above), and Elizabeth, age eight (below).
The special dolls are designed to bring joy to kids that have a hard time feeling like they fit in, or that they can’t be a “normal” kid because of the challenges they face.
A Doll Like Me's founder, Amy Jandrisevits is a former pediatric oncology social worker and builds the dolls by hand. As she says on her website, she believes, "No. 1...everyone should have something to cuddle, No. 2, everyone should have a doll that looks like them (especially when you don't have any hair!), and No. 3 medical play is helpful for psychosocial adjustment."
Begun as a GoFundMe project, Jandrisevits has since formed a nonprofit to help with the creation of more dolls for kids in need. When working with children in hospitals, Jandrisevits noticed there was nothing available in terms of dolls that looked like the children she was helping care for. In an interview with Upworthy.com, she said, "Play therapy is how kids work through all of [the challenges of treatment], and dolls are an integral part of the process. What you ideally want is for a child to see him or herself in the doll that you are using because, again, shouldn't all kids be able to see themselves?"
Stand Together, the Timbers community outreach platform, reached out to Jandrisevits to have her build the two special new doll friends. Due to COVID-19 precautions, the club mailed the dolls to each of the girls along with a package of special goodies and a filmed message from Timbers goalkeeper Jeff Attinella.
To learn more about MLS' Kick Childhood Cancer Month and find ways to help support, visit https://www.mlssoccer.com/mls-works/kick-childhood-cancer.