Lindsey Fitzwater thought she might want to become a pediatric oncologist after spending some time volunteering at local hospitals during her summer breaks.
That's why she participated in a summer program at The Johns Hopkins University where she shadowed physicians from around the country.
Meeting one little boy in the hospital, probably about 7 years old, cemented the goal for the West Virginia University sophomore.
"He was watching cartoons but not really paying attention. The doctors were trying to talk to him, but you could tell he just felt horrible," Fitzwater, 19, of Charleston, said.
"I looked over and saw on his IV pole, he has all of these glass beads. A ton of them - probably the equivalent of 40 Mardi Gras beads. I said 'Oh, those are nice!' "
"He jumped up, grabbed them and pulled them into his lap and said 'These are my Beads of Courage!' I didn't know anything about it, so I asked him to tell me."
Beads of Courage is a program that helps children cope with serious illness by documenting and telling their own story with beads.
"He had all these white ones - more than 100 - and he said, 'These are for all the nights I had to spend in the hospital. The purple ones are for all the times they've had to take blood out of my arm. See the boy with brown hair? That's for the first time I lost my hair.'
"He kept going on and on. And it made me realize how much this one small child had gone through."
It was then that Fitzwater decided she wanted to start something that will help kids faced with dire health conditions be kids - not coping, not managing the illness.
"The biggest problem for the kids is the health issue," Fitzwater said. "But another big problem is that the kids psychologically suffer. They have these life-altering illnesses. They won't leave their rooms to utilize great resources like activity centers. And there are child life service specialists who help patients cope with illness or provide distractions."
"I don't want them to focus on working through it. I felt they needed something to help them completely forget. Just focus on being a kid."
Fitzwater created the Pediatric Entertainment Program, which is pending nonprofit status, in Charleston last year. It works with volunteers in hospitals to engage children in structured activities - like games, puppets, skits and more.