ARLINGTON — Caitlin Bartlow turned 13 years old on Jan. 14, but for her birthday party on Jan. 12, she asked her guests to help her give presents to other people, rather than herself.
Between the ages of 3-9, Caitlin went to Seattle Children's Hospital to have x-rays taken of a bone tumor in her knee that would later be surgically removed, so this year, she was inspired to give back to the people who had given her and countless other children so much.
"I see a lot of people on TV who are hurting, and it makes me feel bad," Caitlin Bartlow said.
"It was around August of last year when she first came to us with the idea," said Dawn Bartlow, Caitlin's mom. "Her birthday is so close to Christmas anyway that I think it puts her mind on giving. As we got closer and closer to the date, we asked her to make sure she still wanted to do this, but she said yes."
Caitlin's birthday remained a festive affair, with her and her friends romping on bouncy inflatable structures in the enclosed astroturf fields of Soccer First Indoor Sports in Arlington, but while the kids scarfed down hot dogs and played together that Saturday night, the presents table for Seattle Children's Hospital grew to include not only a wide variety of items for young patients, but also an estimated $200 that Caitlin and her family will use to shop for more.
"Seattle Children's Hospital has a wonderful website wish list that people can check to know what they should donate," said Dawn Bartlow, referencing the hospital's online guide at www.seattlechildrens.org/ways-to-help/donate/toys.
"Everybody says I'm being so sweet, which is kind of embarrassing, but I know it's for a good cause," said Caitlin Bartlow, who admitted that she'll probably be accepting birthday presents for herself again next year, although she still hopes to give the presents "I don't need" to Seattle Children's Hospital.
"You try to raise socially conscious children, so it's great when they look outside their own boxes and ask you how they can make things better for others," Dawn Bartlow said, before laughing, "I don't think I would have given away my birthday presents when I was 13."