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Melodies Center Patients Shop at 'Grandma Pat's' Store

For a moment 12-year-old Zach Swart forgot he was battling leukemia. Instead, he was focused on holiday shopping — right at the Melodies Center at Albany Med.

Melodies Center patient Zach Swart proudly carries the gift he got for his mom at Rosie's Love holiday store.
Melodies Center patient Zach Swart with a gift for his mom.

“This is for my mom,” he said happily as he carried the Christmas gift down the hall. He had been “shopping” at a special holiday store that brims with gifts each year.

These presents, free to children being treated at the Melodies Center and their families, are from a very generous grandmother: “Grandma Pat” Hedgeman.

The Albany woman’s granddaughter, Rosie, spent much of her life at Albany Med, including Christmas 1999. When Rosie died three months later at age two, Hedgeman wanted to do something in Rosie's honor. 

“So that next Christmas I decided to bring in just a few things for the kids at the Center so they could pick out something for their mom and dad,” she said. “Each year through the Rosie's Love Foundation, we added more items and more volunteers.”

"Grandma Pat" Hedgeman (r.) established the Melodies Center-based holiday store in 2000.
Starting the day after Christmas each year, Grandma Pat begins her year-round shopping for the next year, which along with several generous donations creates the annual holiday emporium that just celebrated its 13th year.

“It's absolutely amazing,” said Zach Swart's mom, Nancy Swart of Saugerties. “We don't have a chance to go shopping with Zach. It's so nice he has a place to shop on his own.”

The store is one of more than two dozen initiatives that took place at the Children’s Hospital during the recent holidays, all designed to brighten the season for children and families dealing with difficult diagnoses.

“I'd like to say I do it all for the kids,” Grandma Pat said with a sly grin, “but I might do it as much for myself. It's fun to see the kids so happy.”

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