Emma’s Legacy: Smiles and Books for Kids Like Her

"Books are for people who wish they were somewhere else.” – Mark Twain

That quote was particularly true for Emma Quid. Diagnosed in June 2014 with a clival chordoma, a type of brain tumor found at the base of the skull, Emma found escape through the stories she immersed herself in while undergoing treatment. Her mom, April, shares, “When she was going through difficult times, Emma chose to read over watching television or playing on the iPad.” 

Emma responded well to a course of treatment that included two brain surgeries with Dr. Tord Alden and Dr. Jeff Rastatter, followed by Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) as well proton beam radiation. But in January 2017, Emma’s disease had spread too far and chemotherapy was ineffective. More surgery or additional radiation were not options to the Quid family and sadly Emma lost her battle.

“Our girl was strong and she was a fighter. She was always so grateful to her care team for their dedication, as were Ed and I,” April says. “We owe the last four years of her life to Dr. Alden and Dr. Rastatter (who Emma nicknamed Jeffie!). They gave us the gift of more time. Katy Howe, Becca Mitsos, Geanine Hunt, Amy LeBailly, and so many more wonderful people helped us all through the darkest of times. My family will be forever grateful to the staff at Lurie Children’s for showing us such kindness.”

After Emma’s passing, her parents, April and Ed, wanted to honor her life. Thoughts of a toy drive or organizing a walk just didn’t seem to feel right. “I was sitting in my kitchen and looking at a few photos from our time at the hospital. I remembered how the three things that made her smile were the Open Heart Magic magicians, the therapy dogs, and her books,” April recalls. “A book drive popped in my head. I know this is something that Emma would approve of. She loved to read! She would read for hours each day and we listened to audiobooks in the car! Emma LOVED to discuss stories. Chatting about her most recent read always brought a smile to her face.”

In December 2018, April and Ed began collecting books in memory of Emma. Book donations from family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, Emma’s old classmates and even local librarians and businesses came flooding in. The generosity from the community, friends and family was overwhelming. 

I am often reminded of a moment of Emma reading in her hospital room. I looked up from the blue chair where I was reading and I saw this tiny little smirk on her face. I grabbed my camera and took a quick snapshot,” April says. “In all of the stress and despite our worry, fear, sadness, and anger, Emma was able to smile because of that story she was reading. I thought that if we could bring a few moments of escape to another child Emma would be so proud.”

In January, April and Ed rented a mini-van, loaded it with more than 1,200 books and headed to Lurie Children’s. Among those books donated were some of Emma’s favorites including Harry Potter and Ready Player One, a book she had read eight times. 

The books will be distributed throughout the inpatient and outpatient units at Lurie Children’s as well as in the Family Life Center library. Each is marked with a special sticker on the inside cover acknowledging Emma.

“Emma made the world a better place and we will continue her legacy. Our silly girl will not be forgotten,” April says. “We plan to give back to Lurie Children’s each year. There is no way to properly thank everyone for what they did, but if we can help a few kids smile, then we’ve done some good in this world in Emma’s name!”


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