On Oct. 29, 8-year-old Sienna Braun, her parents and other patients at Seattle Children's Hospital will celebrate what is known as her second birthday.
On this day one year ago, Sienna received a stem cell transplant at Seattle Children's Hospital that saved her life. The celebration will include a cake and birthday party with nurses and patients singing "Happy Transplant Day."
It is the day that her mother, Janette, and father, Josh, say gave their daughter a "second chance" at life. "Children's Hospital saved Sienna’s life," says Janette. "Children's never gave up [on Sienna]. They didn't ever say we can't do anything more, you need to take your kid home. They just keep going. We are forever indebted to that hospital."
Sienna's second chance at life was also a cause for celebration on Sept. 24 at the third annual Denali Dash 5K run and 1K walk for kids -- the fundraising and community celebration of Seattle Children's Hospital hosted by Denali Advanced Integration, a global systems integrator based in Redmond, Wash.
Sienna, who has fought a two-year battle with cancer, and her mom and dad, all participated in the Dash -- which raised $70,000 for Seattle Children's Hospital -- a new record for the annual event. The charitable donation also marked a major milestone in the philanthropy efforts of Denali. With the funds raised from the Dash, Denali has contributed $4 million in a variety of community organizations since its founding 24 years ago by Denali CEO Majdi Daher and his brother Mohamad.
Denali, which was founded by the brothers to help bring their parents and siblings to America in the aftermath of the Gulf War, has made giving back -- or what Majdi calls giving a "hand up" -- a central part of the Denali "Above the Rest" culture of excellence. It is a culture that has paid big dividends in the Pacific Northwest where Denali has a large technology services footprint.
"Sienna's transplant was a trial," says Janette. "If it wasn’t for the generosity of companies like Denali raising funds through the Denali Dash for research, that trial may not have existed and she may not be here."
Josh Braun remembers falling to his knees outside of Seattle Children's Hospital, going blank with pain and sobbing after finding out Sienna had cancer. It was in the early morning hours of May 2, 2014, after his daughter had undergone a battery of tests.
Josh had lost his sister, Margie at just 33 years old, to triple negative breast cancer just two years earlier. "Aunt Margie," says Sienna, speaking up as he tells the story.
"When I heard the word ‘cancer,’ I didn't hear anything after that," says Josh. "I just cried."
Sienna had arrived at the hospital after running a fever of 103.9 degrees on the evening of April 30, 2014 -- just after her parents had noticed bruising on her body – chalking it up to falls that occurred with Sienna learning to ride a bike.
Once Sienna had been diagnosed with cancer, she spent eight days in the hospital undergoing chemotherapy through a Port-A-Cath – an intravenous catheter placed under the skin for intensive chemo treatments. "It was painful," recalls Janette, her voice breaking with emotion. "You have to allow them to put medicine in her that is going to make her sick to save her life."