For nearly 30 years, Walmart and Sam’s Club locations around the region have supported Connecticut Children’s. Through the generosity of employees and customers, their annual fundraising campaign ensures kids like Alex and Andy get the expert care they need.
Fifteen-year-old twins Alex and Andy Bushnik are alike in a lot of ways, but their trips to Connecticut Children’s over the years have been for many different reasons. A bad fall requiring stitches brought Alex in at age 3—not once, but twice. For Andy, rolandic epileptic seizures at age 6 were just the beginning.
Trips to the ER
For the Bushnik family, their Connecticut Children’s journey began with multiple visits to the Emergency Department. Thankfully, the trip from their home in Windsor Locks is extremely convenient.
“Our first trip to Connecticut Children’s was with Alex,” said Leah Bushnik, the boys’ mother. “He fell on a tile floor at the mall and needed 10 stitches in his chin. Two weeks later, he fell out of his bed and broke those stitches open. He was only 3 years old; he was such a little trooper.”
It was almost a year to the day that Alex fell again. This time, he hit the back of his head on a post at the bottom of a stairwell. Alex required another trip to Connecticut Children’s.
The following year at age 6, Andy started having benign rolandic epileptic seizures. These are the most common form of childhood epilepsy that causes seizures in children between ages 6 and 8.
“These were like grand mal seizures,” Leah noted. Grand mal seizures result in a loss of consciousness and cause violent muscle contractions. “The only difference was that these would happen at night or when he was sleepy.”
He has since outgrown them.
A New Diagnosis
Although Andy has not experienced a seizure in two or three years, another medical condition emerged that has required ongoing attention.
“When Andy was in the 4th grade, he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease,” Leah said. Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation in the digestive tract and can lead to abdominal pain and other issues.
“Andy had a peritoneal abscess and needed emergency surgery,” Leah said. “He was hospitalized for 12 days or so and had three more surgeries that year.”
That was 2014. In December of that same year, Alex started complaining of stomachaches, and both boys had undergone hernia surgery by Christmas.
Leah said Alex was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), but is doing well today. Meanwhile, Andy continues to receive intravenous infusions every six weeks at Connecticut Children’s new Infusion Center. These infusions help keep his Crohn’s symptoms under control.
In January 2019, the boys’ sister, Abby, who will be 11 in August, was evaluated in Connecticut Children’s Orthopedics Division. “Abby has asymmetrical bone dysplasia,” her mother explained. “Her left clavicle (collarbone) is slightly turned and it caused her balance to be off. She’s a ballerina, so we didn’t notice it at first, but it affected her when riding a bike.”
For now, no surgery or other medical procedures are required. “They are going to monitor it as she grows, because her growth plates are still moving,” Leah said.
Walmart & Sam’s Club Campaign
Like the Bushnik family, families from across the region bring their children to Connecticut Children’s for expert care.
For nearly 30 years, Walmart and Sam’s Club locations around the region have helped support Connecticut Children’s through their annual fundraising campaign. A month-long, point-of-sale campaign ran from June 10 to July 7 at 29 Walmart and Sam’s Club locations in the Hartford-New Haven market. In addition, associates engage colleagues in year-round fundraising activities. Collectively, they have raised more than $192,000 this year for Connecticut Children’s.
Having Fun While Working
From popcorn and balloon sales to potluck dinners and pie tosses, Walmart associates have been generous. They enjoy having an opportunity to show some creativity in their fundraising endeavors.
“The dunk tank is the most memorable activity we have done,” said Robin Adkins, who has worked for Walmart for the past 14 years. As the store champion for Connecticut Children’s for the past three years, Robin also cooks empanadas and other foods for the staff at her store throughout the year. “Empanadas are the most requested, and we raise $200 to $300 every time,” she said.
The Wallingford Walmart, which has raised $14,659.68 so far this year, remains Connecticut Children’s top fundraising location.
“Raising money for Connecticut Children’s is one of the most heartwarming things I’ve ever had the opportunity to be part of,” Robin said. “For me, this is paying it forward for those who aren’t as fortunate.”
Walmart and Sam’s Club have been a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital partner since 1987. Local stores have raised more than $5 million for Connecticut Children’s since 1993. Nationally, Walmart and Sam’s Club have raised more than $1 billion.
Giving Back—It’s the Walmart & Sam’s Club way
The Bushnik family is also giving back. In addition to serving as patient ambassadors at various events supporting Connecticut Children’s—ranging from HuskyTHON to Concorso Ferrari & Friends. The kids also participate in PJ Day for the Kids and help with toy drives to benefit patients at the hospital.
This fall, Andy and Alex will be entering their sophomore year at Windsor Locks High School. Abby will be starting middle school. Andy, who plays saxophone and enjoys musical theater and drama, loves electrical engineering. He plans to attend Worcester Polytech Institute after graduation.
“He and Alex are constantly inventing things,” Leah said. “Andy built a robot. He’s in the midst of programming a computer, and he designed a 3D printer. Alex is into fine arts—painting, drawing and sculpting—and would like to be a cartoonist for Pixar someday. Abby is a dancer and enjoys musical theater.”
For families like Steve and Leah Bushnik’s, the generous support provided by the annual Walmart and Sam’s Club campaign means a lot.
“Walmart is a great company for helping families like ours in Connecticut,” Leah said. “Their support really makes a difference in the lives of so many kids.”
To view more local businesses who are partnered with Connecticut Children’s, please visit our Shop to Give page.