Festival of Trees opens early for patients with immunodeficiencies

Posted at 6:03 PM, Nov 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-23 20:03:12-05

While they expect around 25,000 people at this year's festival of trees, early Thursday the Boise Center was absent of most of those people.

"We are able to open for two hours from immunodeficiency maybe cancer treatment or a number of diseases that they cant be out amongst the public," explained festival co-chair Gary Raney.

 "It means a lot to not have to worry and to be able to take my family to something fun and not have to worry about the big crowds," explained cancer patient Carmen French.

Even while fighting the greatest battle of her life, the French family was all smiles this Thanksgiving. 

It's an event they didn't think they would get the chance to attend because of Carmen's illness.

"I've lived in Boise for twenty years and this is the first time I've come to the Festival of Trees so I kind of feel like I got the golden ticket," explained Carmen.

The early opening began 11 years ago when the mother of a child suffering from an immunodeficiency asked if there could be a time set aside her her daughter to attend without the fear of her getting sick. Since then it's been a yearly ritual.

"It's probably not something we would be able to do if other people were here," explained Carmen's daughter Elloryn.

"A lot of times they don't get the opportunity to get out of the house because they are undergoing chemotherapy or things like that so it's great to see what a special event it is for them," explained Raney.

But on top of it all, they can attend without the fear of germs or the burden of having to pay. 

"Even that is important at this time as the bills start rolling in," said Carmen.

While it's a small gesture of kindness to those who may need it the most, it's a gesture that brings light to even the darkest of days.

The Saint Alphonsus Festival of Trees will be open to the public Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.