Skip to main content

Enjoy San Joaquin Valley Living

Delivering Smiles with Emmy's Project

Feb 28, 2020 11:00AM ● By Rachel Trigueiro

Quite the Fighter

March 2020
Story by Rachel Trigueiro

“IT'S JUST A bad day; it’s not a bad life,” Tiffany Travis of Lemoore repeats to her 11-year-old daughter, Emmy, who lives with a rare disease. 

Diagnosed just days before her fifth birthday, Emmy spent her first years of life very sick, in and out of the hospital with no answer. Although Valley Children’s Hospital is exceptional at what they do, she knows the pain of being stuck with needles and stuck in bed. She knows the pain of sterile walls and long roads. She has seen others worse off than her and though grateful, that pain hurts, too. 

“She is quite the little fighter,” her mom says. “She makes me want to push. If she can do hard things, so can I.” 

On the tough days, Emmy says she usually turns to her books, music or dance. “Some days I listen to Christian, other days it’s hip-hop. It really just depends on my mood,” she says with a laugh. She’s learned to listen to her body but has also learned to push herself and just go to school, “because you know, if I don’t go to school, then I can’t go to dance,” she says with a smile. 

Years ago, during one of their many visits to Valley Children’s, Emmy looked around at all the kids and said, “Mommy, we should do something.” Instead of turning her pain inward, feeling sorry for herself, at just 8 years old, Emmy looked outward and wanted to make a difference. 

Emmy’s Project came to life with the purpose of bringing joy and creativity to children who are suffering. Once a year, the week before Easter, the mommy-daughter team delivers brand new coloring books and crayons to the kids at Valley Children’s. 

What started as a small project within their home and with the help of friends from church has begun to grow. Travis recalls a special moment last spring when a teacher, Tom Nelson from Hanford, reached out. “He said he was going to help Emmy because he believes in what she’s doing and he wanted to donate 50 books.” That has snowballed and they have begun to receive more exposure and donations.

The first year they delivered approximately 100 books. Last year they delivered 200 books. This year, they have a goal of 400 books and have widened their selections, collecting everything from coloring books and activity books to adult coloring books and colored pencils for the older kids. 

When asked how she would encourage another little girl in similar struggles, Emmy says, “Well, my mom has been there for me for all my life. And she’s my number one supporter. So I would probably tell her that quote that my mom always says to me, because it’s true. It’s just a bad day; it’s not a bad life. Things can get better. And you need a little rain and sun to make a flower, so… I just try to think about the positive more than the negative.”

Finding purpose in the pain has been a gift to Emmy and her mom. Knowing they are bringing a smile to other kids’ lives, if even for a moment. An emotional Travis says, “People have always said, ‘Emmy is going to do amazing things, you just wait.’” •

Find Emmy’s Project on Facebook

Rachel Trigueiro, twin mom of four, loves adventuring with her family, especially near the beach. She holds a degree in business, but believes living in other countries and cultures offered her the greatest education. She dreamed of being a talk-show host; now, she enjoys story telling and drinking blonde coffee.