A new room at the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital not only honors a child’s life cut short but also aims to make other children’s lives there a little easier.
Brayden “Brady” Kier of Staunton died at the age of 3 on June 10, 2016, after being diagnosed with leukemia.
“His gentleness, sweet angelic voice, radiant smile and melting laugh would consume each person that met him, be it a nurse, doctor or someone on the street,” his uncle Kendrick Kier told The Daily Progress in an email.
Kendrick Kier is now president of the BradyStrong Foundation, which raises money and awareness for pediatric cancer treatment.
Honoring that goal and Brady Kier, a new sanctuary in the hospital’s Battle Building has been dedicated and opened to all pediatric patients who receive infusion treatments at UVa Children’s.
“The room is to honor him, to continue the legacy, to bring kids joy as they sit in those rooms receiving their own treatments, but to do so in a soothing manner and not a room of 4 white walls,” Kendrick Kier said.
Instead of four white walls, there is now a panorama painting of the Shenandoah Valley at sunset illustrated by Nick Palastro. There is also a television and gaming space set up as well as a massage chair.
That massage chair was actually the original inspiration for the sanctuary.
It was Luke Post, another young man, who donated the chair to the hospital. He and his family “know what it is like to go down this journey,” said Kendrick Kier.
Post first started receiving treatments for his T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma in May of 2019. He previously made headlines in 2021, when he was just 15, for designing a T-shirt — titled “No One Fights Alone” — to raise money for activities such as books, video games, toys and movies targeted to kids his age, bringing in more than $6,000.
“We brainstormed ideas with him about where to allocate some of those funds, and we decided together that a fancy massage chair was something that our patients could use that he was excited to provide the funds for,” Amy Cesak, patient and family center care manager at UVa Children’s, told The Daily Progress.
But the chair wasn’t enough, she said.
“When we put the chair in the space it really highlighted that the space needed a makeover,” Cesak said.
This remodeling project was about a year in the making with the help of some other financial donations and input from the children at the hospital themselves, Cesak said.
“We met with a group of teens at the very beginning of this project and one of them just described that he wanted the room to feel like a sanctuary, and so that’s what we’ve really tried to accomplish,” she said.
While it may not be a cure, providing a safe and relaxing space for those undergoing treatments that can often be stressful and draining, is a step up from just four white walls.
“When they receive infusion treatments, it can be quite lengthy, sometimes hours, and so providing them a space outside of a stereotypical treatment room that they can relax and feel a sense of peace is therapeutic,” Cesak said.
The sanctuary is not the first time Kier has been honored at UVa.
PK Kier, his cousin, honored him on the football field.
As a running back, PK Kier wore jersey No. 26. during his freshman year. Shortly after Brady Kier’s death, at a jersey-selection ceremony in 2019, he honored his cousin by changing his jersey number to No. 6, the age the boy would have been.
“When I look down at that number, it reminds me there is a kid who could be here growing up to be something major but he lost his life to cancer,” he said at the time. “I’m going to do this for him, and I’m going to give it my all every day.”