‘It was like that one was meant for me’: Cards from Lawrence children inspire nurses battling COVID-19 in New York City

photo by: Scott Sloyer

From left, Kansas nurses Stacie Kelly and Ashley Kush are photographed in an elevator in Park Central Hotel in New York City, where dozens of encouraging cards from Lawrence families line the walls.

Camryn Kelly didn’t fully understand what her mom would be doing when she left for New York in the beginning of April.

So when the 4-year-old said goodbye, Camryn asked her mom, Stacie Kelly, if she could bring her back a unicorn from “vacation.” She’s obsessed with the mythical creature, Kelly noted.

Of course, Kelly’s trip to New York City is no vacation. The nurse from Gardner traveled to the nation’s biggest COVID-19 hot spot to care for patients. She works 12-hour shifts, and nearly every patient she works with is suspected positive for the virus. She’s currently staying in Park Central Hotel with a little under 1,000 nurses from across the country.

On Tuesday, those nurses received a surprise from dozens of children in Lawrence in the form of encouraging cards and pictures. There was one in particular that caught Kelly’s eye.

“I believe in you and unicorns,” the outside of the card states. “But especially you,” the inside reads.

“It was like that one was meant for me,” Kelly said.

photo by: Stacie Kelly

This unicorn card from 8-year-old Lawrencian Lauren Murray was one of dozens sent to nurses staying at Park Central Hotel in New York City.

Nearly 100 cards from Lawrence families have been taped to the walls of three elevators in the hotel.

The idea came from Lawrencian Scott Sloyer, who traveled to New York City with his son, Tyler, to volunteer at Park Central Hotel and help the nurses in any way they can, including making sure they have coffee, water, food and snacks and working on scheduling to make sure the nurses get to and from hospitals on time.

Sloyer reached out to his friend Courtney Freet about his idea to have kids in Lawrence send encouraging notes to the nurses. Freet posted about it on social media, and received a total of about 100 cards from five families in Lawrence who dropped off notes on her front doorstep. She mailed them to the hotel last week.

They say things like, “You’re my healthcare hero,” and “Prayers from Lawrence.” One has a superhero drawn on it.

photo by: Scott Sloyer

Families in Lawrence sent dozens of encouraging cards, including those pictured, to Park Central Hotel in New York City, where about 1,000 nurses are staying.

Ashley Kush, a nurse from Louisburg who works with Kelly at the Overland Park Regional Medical Center, helped hang up the cards on Tuesday.

“I just think it’s amazing that people would take the time and have their kids draw these,” she said. “We’re so thankful that there’s people out there that care enough.”

Kush said the cards give her the positive push she needs to start the day and “fight this battle.” They also remind her of her own children back at home.

photo by: Scott Sloyer

Families in Lawrence sent dozens of encouraging cards, including this one, to Park Central Hotel in New York City, where about 1,000 nurses are staying.

She and Kelly were both on an elevator this week when another nurse stepped on in the midst of a video call with her family. The other nurse immediately showed her family the cards and said they made her heart happy.

“You could tell she had tears in her eyes,” Kelly said.

Other nurses have commented about the kindness of Kansans.

“Everybody just says, ‘You’re from Kansas. People from Kansas are so nice,'” Kush said. “And I’m like, ‘Yes, we love big, we love very big.'”

More cards may be on the way to the New York hotel. Freet’s friends from other states wanted to participate as well. But for now, the walls of the elevators are lined with all the cards in Freet’s package — except one.

One card is taped to the headboard of Kelly’s hotel bed. It’s the unicorn card, signed by 8-year-old Lawrencian Lauren Murray with the added note, “Thank you for everything you do!”

Kelly didn’t feel too bad about claiming this card as her own. As she said, she felt that it was meant for her. And now, Kelly noted, she has a unicorn to bring back home to her daughter.


Welcome to the new LJWorld.com. Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.