Thirteen-year-old Hayley Segall made her way through extensive security at the National Institutes of Health to present Children's Inn Information Systems Director Rick Saunders with a $1,645 check, last Thursday afternoon.
Though the heavy rain that drenched Montgomery County kept many off the roads last week, Hayley and her parents braved the storm to finish a project Hayley had been working on for months.
The check given to the Children’s Inn at NIH for “Hayley’s Laptop Project” will help fund the purchase of four laptops for the Inn’s residents, young patients of NIH and their families.
As part of Hayley’s requirements for her Bat Mitzvah, which she celebrated in May of this year, Hayley needed to come up with a Tikkun Olam, or Repairing the World, project. But not just any project would do; Hayley wanted to feel a sense of involvement and purpose.
“What I’m doing really touches a place in my heart,” she said. “People [at the Children’s Inn] have so much on their minds, if I could do something that could take something off their minds, even for a little bit, I would do anything.”
Hayley has been working towards her goals of donating money for laptops since the fall of 2010 and she had already raised $1,655, as reported by her project site. Thursday's personal donation of $1,645 brings the total amount to $3,300, enough for 4 laptops and protection packages, but Hayley has every intention of continuing with her project.
She would like to raise enough to purchase 10-12 laptops, a dream number, according to Saunders and the Children’s Inn. Though the Inn is equipped with wireless Internet, not every family who comes to stay at the Inn can bring a laptop to stay in touch with family or keep up with school work. This is especially true for international families, who make up about 10 percent of the Inn’s population, according to Meredith Daly, media relation’s manager for the Children’s Inn.
“For these families, the laptops are enormously helpful because they have the Skype technology that allows them to keep in touch with families back home,” she said.
The Children’s Inn can host up 59 families at a time, with nearly 1, 500 children coming in each year. Before Hayley’s donation, the Inn had only three laptops to be shared among the families.
“There are a lot of places that I haven’t gone yet, and there are a lot of places that I’ve gone that I’m going to try again,” Hayley said. “I hope that people feel the same way I do. That they get a warm, fuzzy feeling in their hearts when they’re giving this money, knowing that they’re putting a smile on someone’s face.”
Now an eighth-grader at Thomas W. Pyle Middle School in Bethesda, Hayley moved to Potomac with her family in 1999. Her mother, Lauren Gross, is the director of public policy and government affairs for the American Association of Immunologists, and her father, Hal Segall, is works with the law firm of Beveridge & Diamond, Washington, D.C. Hayley’s sister, Deanna Segall, is a junior at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda.
“It is really extraordinary to see your child grow from a toddler with a big heart to a young teenager who can make a real difference,” Lauren said. “Her dedication has been inspirational to all of us, and we are very proud of her.”
For more information about Hayley’s project, visit her page on the Children’s Inn website.
Correction: The original story misstated the amount of money donated. We regret the error.