Noelle Gregoire is always looking for ways she can comfort children being treated at area hospitals, particularly Tufts Floating Hospital, where she was once a patient.
The Haverhill High School freshman, a member of the school's Classical Academy, has raised thousands of dollars since launching her charity "Laps 4 Backs" at age 9.
Noelle, 14, uses the money she raises to stock cabinets with toys for children to enjoy while they are hospitalized at Tufts or at other health care facilities across the region.
Her nonprofit organization recently received a $10,000 grant from the New England Patriots Foundation. She was one of 26 New Englanders to be honored Aug. 20 at Gillette Stadium during the 2019 Myra Kraft Community MVP Awards program.
On hand to congratulate the award winners were Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, New England Patriots Foundation President Joshua Kraft and Andre Tippett, Patriots and pro football hall of famer and Patriots executive director of community affairs.
Noelle said she plans to use her award to buiy an interactive, projection game system for the X-ray and orthopedic waiting rooms at Tufts Floating Hospital. Any remaining money will go to the purchase of toys.
Through her efforts, more than 75,000 toys have been donated to health care facilities across New England.
"I am honored to be one of the awardees of this year’s Myra Kraft Community MVP Award," Noelle said. "Thanks to this award, my charity, Laps 4 Backs, can help comfort so many more sick kids than before."
Area hospitals supported by Noelle's charity include Tufts Floating Hospital, Elliott Hospital in Manchester, Wentworth Douglass in Dover, Boston Children's Hospital, Shriner's Hospital in Boston, as well as Camp Sunshine in Casco, Maine, and Cedarcrest Center for Children with Disabilites in Keene, New Hampshire.
Her nonprofit organization, which she manages, was registered two years ago. Noelle said she raises money through her annual 1.5 mile swim across Province Lake in Wakefield, New Hampshire, and through an annual fundraiser each May. She also conducts toy drives throughout the year.
When she was just 5 years old, Noelle was diagnosed with dysplastic spondylolisthesis – also known as a cracked vertebra. For the next three years, she was required to wear a back brace and couldn’t participate in physical activities.
As she continued to visit the hospital, she noticed that the “Reward Closet” was almost empty. Noelle was determined to do her part to help fill the closet and provide gifts for children in the hospital. As soon as she received clearance from her doctor to participate in physical activity, Noelle created the organization Laps 4 Backs. She hosts and participates in long-distance swimming events to raise awareness for her condition, while also raising money for local hospitals.