April 22, 2024

Brooke Lax is a 17-year-old high school student from Toronto who created a non-profit organization catered to putting smiles on children’s faces.

Lax began Packing a Smile in 2018 after carefully analyzing the lives of Sick Kids patients who have had to make their hospital rooms their home. Her journey has been a long grueling battle as three years prior Lax was diagnosed with Eosinophilic Esophagitis. EoE is an allergic disease that affects the esophagus and small intestine, creating inflammation in the GI tract.

Ever seen she was two years old, her health has snowballed into 11 anaphylactic allergies, a chronic stomach condition, and an esophageal condition. Even though her health journey has given her every right to back down, she never has.

Her passion of giving back has always been a part of her embodiment whether that was in big gestures or little.

“I had the idea when I was about nine years old,” said Lax.

While she was waiting for a diagnosis on her heart condition, she had a realization.

“I looked around after I had my surgery and I turned to my parents and said, ‘why do the other children have prettier rooms than I do?’” said her younger self.

Her parents explained that some kids have to turn the hospital into their homes. They have had to adapt to a lifestyle where being at home isn’t a luxury because of the constant treatments and care.

“That really was a moment in my life that turned the switch in my brain from wanting to understand, to wanting to make a difference,” said Lax.

For the next three years until she was 12-years-old, she continued reaching out to Canadian companies and gathering donations. Lax accumulated 200 bags and donated their entirety to Sick Kids, The Hospital for Sick Children.

The contents placed in the donation’s bags range from toys, books, games, colouring books, and anything else that will give children an activity or a reason to smile while in hospital care. All products so far have come from Canadian companies but Lax is beginning to bridge the gap into American companies as well.

“I would say every year I donate about 1000 bags per year since 2018,” said Lax.

Her benevolence reaches across Ontario giving back to over ten hospitals.

Having a child so ambitious and determined gives Lax’s mother Stacey Lax, a sense of overwhelming pride.

“She’s a pretty awesome kid who has taken all of her struggles and turned it into something positive,” said Stacey Lax. “She has been an inspiration to children who are struggling or faced with things they don’t want to deal with.”

As for the future, Lax wishes for her life to revolve around the element of aiding those in need. She looks forward to a career in being a child social worker within hospitals. Her connection to those in the field stem from her time being in the care of others.

“Packing a Smile has helped me gain some perspective on those tough days of being in pain or feeling really lost in the aspect of life,” said Lax.

“If one person can make a difference from their adversity, then another person can as well.”

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