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Lilly Hagaman makes cancer donation

What makes Christmas, Christmas? Depending on whom you ask, you are bound to get a sleigh full of different answers. Most kids will shout Santa, while parents will say a few days off work to travel and then stand in long return lines. It’s true, right? We spend so much time cooking, shopping, cleaning the house and getting ready for the big gift exchange that we often don’t pause long enough to reflect on a year full of blessings.

At Appalachian Regional Healthcare System we are not immune to the hustle and bustle of the season. Since our doors are always open to care for patients, we too sometimes feel guilty for not slowing down enough to enjoy the holiday. Thankfully, Lilly Hagaman, a beautiful seven-year-old girl and student at Hardin Park School, recently reminded us of the true reason for the season.


A heartwarming idea

According to her parents, Daniel and Katie Hagaman, Lilly woke up at the crack of dawn a month before Christmas and approached her parents with an idea. Over a very early bowl of cereal, Lilly shared that she wanted to do a fundraiser to help people with cancer at the hospital.

“Cancer is not good,” she said. “And I know people with it have to see doctors to get better, which I’m sure is expensive. So, I thought I could help them as a Christmas gift.”

Pride that only a parent can imagine welled up inside of Katie’s heart. Although she admits that tears of laughter burst forth moments later when her daughter went on to explain in a very serious tone that she would like to raise a grand total of $10 for the cause. “It was one of those moments when you think to yourself, ‘that’s my baby!’”

The sentiment also touched Daniel’s heart. Over the years, both he and his mother, Lilly’s grandmother, have overcome bouts with cancer at the Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center in Boone, NC.


A lesson for us all

Angie Del Nero, Lilly Hagaman, Katie Hagaman

Left to right: Angie Del Nero, Lilly Hagaman, Katie Hagaman

When asked if she had any previous fundraising experience Lilly said no, but she didn’t see that as a problem. She went on to tout her affinity for arts-and-crafts and how that in itself was a transferrable skill. Evidently, drawing unicorns and cat-mermaids is her specialty.

Before school the next morning she helped her mother put together a GoFundMe account to accomplish her goal. Thanks to social media, the idea spread quickly and before long $365 was donated – enough to give a dollar a day for an entire year. Lilly was thrilled.

Four days before Christmas, Lilly and Katie made a special after school trip to personally deliver the check to Angie Del Nero, the Social Worker at the Cancer Center. Angie explained that the gift will go into a very special fund, known as the Cancer Patient Emergency Fund. Angie added that this fund is used to help remove some of the financial barriers that a patient may run into during the course of their treatment. This fund is often used to help patients pay their electric bills during the winter months and to cover transportation expenses.

Lilly beamed as she took it all in, awestruck by the realization of a goal accomplished and a dream fulfilled.

When asked what makes Christmas, Christmas, Katie said, “I think Christmas is always ultimately about giving. We tend to look at the receiving side of things, but the first Christmas was all about what we were gifted. And that was a huge gift of love and sacrifice. I believe that first Christmas gift was given as an example for us to follow. And as a mother, I’m proud of Lilly’s heart for staying so true to that.”

At Appalachian Regional Healthcare System we are grateful for Lilly’s thoughtful heart and gift this year. We also would like to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Healthy New Year.

To learn more about how you can also give a gift for the advancement of healthcare in the High Country, contact the Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation at (828) 262-9105, or visit

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