Avi Adler was lying unconscious underneath a truck when his family found him in June 2020.
A delivery truck driver had reversed without looking, striking Avi on the 20th mile of his bike ride. After the accident, the 18-year-old was rushed to the hospital, where he awoke with broken bones and a concussion.
A child life specialist helped Avi while he was hospitalized, making him and his family feel calmer and at ease.
Missouri State University student Tamar Adler was inspired by how much the specialist helped her brother through his traumatic injury.
“The accident changed Avi, and it also changed me,” Tamar said. “It made me realize I wanted a career that benefits other people.”
Since the accident, Avi has fully recovered. Tamar changed her career trajectory from fashion to child life.
Bringing joy with Cheery Charlie
Tamar had to think outside the box to find ways to volunteer in this field since it was in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I started making craft bags and donated them to the child life departments at local St. Louis hospitals as a way to volunteer from home,” Tamar said. “The bags help kids be creative and experience normalcy while in the hospital.”
She named her volunteer project Cheery Charlie and turned it into an official Missouri nonprofit corporation.
“I chose the name because I had just gotten a puppy named Charlie, and Charlie makes me cheery,” she said.
Since the inception of Cheery Charlie in January 2021, Tamar has donated over 6,000 craft bags to children in St. Louis hospitals.
Tamar won the St. Louis Jewish Light 2022 Unsung Hero Award for her time, service and commitment to the St. Louis Jewish community through Cheery Charlie.
Furthering her passion through education
Tamar enrolled in Missouri State’s online child life graduate program two years after her brother’s accident.
She plans to graduate in May 2027. As a future child life specialist, Tamar will help children and their families deal with the challenges of trauma, loss, long-term illness or injury and more.
She said the knowledge she has gained about child life through her program has been invaluable for her future and nonprofit.
“Being able to study child life at MSU while working on Cheery Charlie has been so powerful to me,” Tamar said.
“My time at MSU has only allowed me to love child life even more.”
Despite the program being online, Tamar feels a great connection to her fellow child life students and her advisor, Dr. Lindsey Murphy.
“Tamar is a natural,” said Murphy, assistant professor of childhood education and family studies at Missouri State.
“She exudes joy and many characteristics and skills needed to be a great child life specialist. I have no doubt she will continue to touch many patients, families and staff throughout her career.”