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It all started with a mermaid and a phone call. 

Linden Wolbert, a professional mermaid (yes, you read that correctly… but it’s a story for another day), reached out to Rendever in late-2018 with a heartfelt story. Linden’s 10-year-old niece, Reese, was bravely battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in Virginia. Reese qualified for a new immunotherapy called CAR-T therapy where the genetically modify and re-infuse her own T-cells to attack her cancer cells. The treatment was brutal and their family spent many months in in-patient care at the hospital. It was an incredibly difficult time for the family, but they were determined to keep spirits high and help Reese get through. 

Linden knew that Reese was soon to have an uninspiring hospital room and a lot of free time. She started researching resources and products that might be able to help her niece escape the walls of the hospital and have some fun. Enter: Rendever. 

When we heard Reese’s story, we knew that we needed to get involved. The day after our conversation with Linden, we shipped one of our small systems with two headsets and a control tablet to the family. After a brief training, they were off to the races – taking camel rides, swimming with dolphins, and exploring the streets of Paris. The Eiffel Tower was particularly spectacular because Reese’s Make-A-Wish trip to Paris had been postponed due to her relapse and aggressive treatment. Using VR, Reese was able to stroll the streets of Paris, learn about the history and culture, and enjoy views from every angle of the Eiffel Tower. 

Reese tried every feature and went through every video on the Rendever platform. With two headsets, she was able to share the experience with her family, friends, nurses, and doctors. She challenged everyone that came into her hospital room to a round of Balloon Popper, our interactive game where you compete with others to pop as many balloons as you can before time runs out. 

“It was pure magic,” Linden reported. “We were all blown away. The instant she put the headset on, the room brightened. We were absolutely overjoyed to see her smile and laugh in response to the VR experience. Rendever’s platform was hugely impactful during Reese‘s treatment… it was honestly therapeutic for the entire family.”

Fast forward 3 months, and we’re thrilled that Reese is officially in remission and getting back to the normal life of a sweet, resilient, little girl. 

We get messages every day from families like Reese’s. People that have loved ones living with dementia at home, fighting cancer, recovering from traumatic brain injuries, strokes, paralysis, and more. They see the potential for VR to help their loved ones – and we do too! It’s early days for clinical research regarding VR as a therapy, but after three years working with seniors in assisted living, memory care, hospice and more, we know how incredibly powerful this tool can be. We see it every single day. 

In an effort to expand our impact and support other families that could benefit from our VR platform, we’re excited to announce the launch of Rendever’s Expanding Impact program. Anyone can apply to receive a Rendever “Experience Grant” for any type of circumstances. Each month, we’ll review submissions and select deserving families to send our platform to – everything you need in one box. They’ll get to use the product for 30-days and then return the equipment so that we can send to the next family in need. 

If you’d like to learn more or apply, please visit rendever.com/expanding-impact

We can’t wait to share more Expanding Impact stories with you. In the meantime, we want to extend our gratitude to Linden, Reese and her whole family for allowing us to be a part of their journey. Merci beaucoup!