Socks with Stories: Meriden boy with leukemia helps design non-slip socks for kids in hospital

Connecticut Families

MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — “He was diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) when he was 17-months-old,” said Nicole Johnson of her son Naaman.

The little boy has been a fighter ever since the diagnosis, dealing with feeding tubes and even liver failure. Now he’s using his fighting energy to help others.

Naaman loves superheroes and has found a happy distraction in a project that’s all about comfort. He designed socks with a mission.

“It may sound trivial but it is an element of dignity,” said Johnson, of Meriden.

“When you go into the hospital, they give you non-slip socks that really aren’t that good. They’re floppy, they don’t stay up on your feet that well. They’re usually an ugly beige color,” laughed Jake Teitelbaum, a Durham native who enlisted a group of young patients like Naaman to turn something ordinary into Socks with Stories.

The warm and fun footwear creates smiles for the child and his community that can wear them as a show of support.

“It became this thing of, ‘Hey, I’m thinking of you,'” said Teitelbaum who founded Resilience Gives, the organization behind the socks, which empowers families impacted by cancer.

“In our four years of existence, we’ve donated [almost] 7,000 pairs of socks and a little over $140,000,” said Teitelbaum.

“We brought a big box of socks from resilience gives to donate at Smilow,” said Johnson, noting the cancer center where Naaman is treated.

She hopes the socks provide coziness to anyone during this difficult time while also raising awareness of their young, brave designers.

“It’s wonderful when someone’s knocking on your door and bringing you something and it’s not another doctor or nurse,” said Johnson of the families impacted by cancer. “I know that it’s bringing them some joy.”

For every pair of socks that is purchased, Resilience Gives donates one to a child in the hospital.

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