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The "Wish Tree" at the "Marianna V. Vardinoyannis-ELPIDA" Children's Oncology Unit

On the morning of Monday 2 December 2013, the Marianna V. Vardinoyannis-ELPIDA Children's Oncology Unit put on its Sunday best and the Chairwoman of the ELPIDA Association of Friends of Children with Cancer Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis declared the beginning of the Christmas celebrations which bring such joy to the children. Mrs. Vardinoyannis welcomed ELPIDA's Messenger Sakis Rouvas, Hermionis Mayor Mr. Dimitris Kamizis, and the Hermionis Municipality Philharmonic, which came to the Oncology Unit to perform Christmas songs at ELPIDA's annual Christmas party.

Welcoming them, Mrs. Vardinoyannis said: "Today is a day that brings together our hearts and our wishes to our beloved children. We are gathered here to trim the Christmas Wish Tree! We are very glad to have you with us because you will make our children's smile even bigger! We thank you so much for coming to visit us, for journeying all the way from Hermioni, leaving your individual duties behind – your job, your school – and coming here to perform Christmas songs that will transport us and bring the Christmas spirit to every corner of the hospital. The Municipality of Hermionis has repeatedly embraced ELPIDA's work with various initiatives throughout the years and this summer I was very moved by the members of the Philharmonic expressing a wish to come to the hospital and play with the children. The area's schools, the sports clubs, the arts groups and the professional associations have all offered a gift of love to children with cancer. For this reason, I would like to especially thank the Mayor of Hermionis Mr. Dimitris Kamizis, who, being himself a doctor, knows what it means to fight to save a child."

Mrs Vardinoyannis then addressed ELPIDA's Messenger, Sakis Rouvas, who always keeps his promise to the children of the Oncology Unit to be there at the Christmas party, and said: "Dear Saki, I address you after our guests, because I consider you to be the host here at ELPIDA. You have been at our side constantly, and by attending our Christams party each year you make all the children happy and impatiently waiting for this day to come! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your invaluable support and for adopting and fighting for our vision. We would like to give you the ELPIDA lucky charm for 2014 and also give one to your wife Katia, wishing you both health and a happy new year."

Sakis Rouvas thanked her warmly and received the good luck charm, saying: "My wish is for this charm to bring good fortune to all the children, and may next Christmas find them all at home, trimming their own Christmas tree with their families. Though, of course, what we have here is also a big family and Mrs. Marianna and the hospital always offer a big warm hug to the children, nevertheless I wish that all the children will be home next Christmas, trimming their tree with their mom and dad."

Christmas poems were then recited by children being treated at the hospital, while the teachers that accompanied them, dressed as elves and Santa Clauses, added their own joyful touch to the celebration. Sakis Rouvas gave out autographs to the children and was photographed with them.

The celebration culminated around the Wish Tree, in a special area where a Christams decoration workshop had been set up. There, the Chairwoman of ELPIDA, Sakis Rouvas, and many children, parents and members of ELPIDA each wrote a wish on a paper decoration and hung it on the tree.

Mrs. Vardinoyannis then congratulated and thanked everyone for their contribution to the party and its success, and especially Playmobil for the lovely gifts it offered the children. Mrs Vardinoyannis also presented honorary ELPIDA plaques to the Mayor of Hermionis Mr. Dimitris Kamizis and the Philharmonic maestros Messrs. Arvanitis and Maniatis, and wished everyone "Happy Christmas full of health and a better new year!"

Present at the party were also the Director of the Aghia Sophia Children's Hospital Mr. Emmanouil Papasavvas; the Director of the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit Dr. Stelios Grafakos; as well as members of ELPIDA's Board of Directors, Mesdames Melina Daskalaki, Ino Konstantopoulou, Rita Moraitaki-Pikrou, Ekaterini Metaxotou, Alina Minetta, Eleni Samara-Konstantakatou, Becky Stravelaki, Elli Tzanetatou, Christina Tsatsaki, Ketty Filippidou and Vicky Filippou; the Director of the ELPIDA Guesthouse Mrs. Anna Panayotopoulou; the Guesthouse's social worker Mr. Dimitris Nanis; and former ELPIDA Guesthouse residents and cancer survivors Stelios Papardelas and Christina Fytili.