As a child, Dawn Gregg spent hours running around with the Ingalls girls in her favorite book series, Little House on the Prairie. Between every page and every chapter, Dawn dived deep into a new world, far, far away from the constant trauma and abuse in her family. Now, decades later, she is giving children in pain and undergoing treatments at Sacred Heart Children's Hospital their own glimmer of hope.
"I don't want a kid to go through what I went through. If a kid who is in the hospital can look out their window and look at Christmas lights, and take a mental break from the chaos, then I've done something good for them," said Dawn Gregg.
Since 2015, Dawn has donated thousands of dollars in lights, supplies, and hundreds of volunteer hours to ensure the holiday light display at Cowley Park, below Sacred Heart Children's Hospital, shines bright every year.
Dawn, who owns three Ace Hardware stores in Spokane, first got involved in the light display after chatting with Mark Peterson, from KXLY's Extreme Team, in the aisle at one of her stores.
"He came in and said, "Well, I have this idea. I want to light up the park below the hospital. I need lights.' I said, 'Well, let's see what we have, and it has grown from there," said Dawn.
When the team of volunteers setting up the lights needs new cords, zip ties, or even a hot meal, Dawn is there without hesitation. This year, Dawn spent more than $4,000 on new rope lights. Whatever it takes to make spirits bright for patients, parents, and staff at Sacred Heart.
"You just can't put into words the look on the kid's face when the switch is flipped. I was hooked from the start; this is why we do this," said Dawn.
Sacred Heart Children's Hospital and the Children's Miracle Network have always had a special place in Dawn's heart. For more than a decade, Dawn has spearheaded an effort with 27 Ace Hardware stores around the region to raise money for the Children's Miracle Network. This year, hardware stores will donate around$200,000, bringing total donations to a million dollars over the past several years. The money is going toward a five-year renovation of an entire pediatric wing at Sacred Heart.
Dawn also donates stockings and gifts for kids in the hospital to open on Christmas morning.
"It's just the right thing to do. It feels like what I'm supposed to do," said Dawn.
The gift of hope and love, something Dawn's aunt and uncle gave her during her childhood when her world fell apart at home.
"They are mom and dad to me. I call them my guardian angels," said Dawn.
Now, Dawn is paying it forward. One shimmering light at a time.
"No kid wants to be in the hospital during Christmas time. These parents are going through so much. Whatever turmoil is going on, you can look at the lights, and stress just leaves your body," said Dawn.
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