by Tonie Hansen

During the holidays, employees in many NVIDIA offices find unique ways to support the less fortunate. While this may mean providing money and donations to low-income families, our Moscow office this year focused on young children who are battling leukemia. Below is a great note we received from Moscow site leader John Spitzer and Yury Uralsky about this activity.

“Most of us think of winter holidays as a wonderful time of year we spend with our families, decorating our homes, exchanging presents and, more often than not, eating far more than is healthy. Few realize what it feels like for a child to spend the entire holiday in a hospital bed, hooked up to IVs and monitors. Yet there are many children suffering from leukemia who must spend this season – and for some, many months more – exactly like that. They are not allowed outside their clinic wards, let alone play in the snow like other children, because their immune systems are far too weak and even a mild cold could put them in grave danger.  Many of these children receive treatment at RDKB (Российская детская клиническая больница), the Russian Pediatric Clinical Hospital located in southwest Moscow, which is one of the leading children’s hospitals in Russia.

As the New Year approached, employees at the NVIDIA Moscow office decided to give the kids in RDKB a bit of cheering up. Over the past year, we’d been auctioning off retired lab hardware and decided it was time to put the proceeds to good use. To our surprise and delight, we had enough money to buy six Optimus-enabled laptops and 10 DVD players – systems that would both entertain and educate children while they’re laid up in the clinic.  On Dec. 28, a small contingent of NVIDIA representatives visited the hospital to deliver the gifts. Though rules prevented us from distributing the gifts ourselves, we did have a chance to speak with a few children in their rooms after we had donned the necessary medical gowns and masks. Though the children are each required to have an adult relative stay with them, they receive very few other visitors, and as such were extremely eager to chat with us. One adorable little girl – Vika – was just 21 months old but in such great spirits that you’d never imagine she was undergoing chemotherapy via an IV to which she’s tethered 24 hours a day.

Employees from our Moscow office visit with a young oncology patient.

In a separate effort, we worked with the same charity, Подари Жизнь (Podari Zhizn or “Give the Gift of Life”), which had connected us with RDKB.  We’d asked how we could help them financially, and they suggested that we contribute via their charity to help Vanya, a two-year-old boy who is suffering from leukemia and is in desperate need of a bone-marrow transplant and post-operative care.  Though we didn’t have the chance to meet him personally during our visit, Vanya’s currently at RDKB awaiting treatment.  Through an outpouring of generosity, the employees of the Moscow office raised over $7,000, which was matched by NVIDIA for nearly a $15,000 total contribution.

We are immensely proud of our employees’ generosity, and are hoping to further expand our collaboration with RDKB and Podari Zhizn in 2011. At least this holiday season we’ve given one boy a shot at life and the other children a more pleasant stay in the hospital. And finally, hats off to Elena Silina, Julia Kononenko and Ridal Sultanov who organized and carried out most of the efforts described above.”