Meet Joy And Nolan Williams

Joy Williams is the founder of the SuperPup Program at TMH and shares how you can bring comfort to children in the hospital!


Dear Friends,

If you’re a parent, you know how terrible it feels when your child is sick.

Every time your child coughs, or cries, or grimaces in pain, you feel it too, and all you want is for your child to feel better.

As a nurse manager in surgery at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, I am trained to help sick and injured patients. I do that every day, but when it came to my child’s surgery, I was just as scared as any other mom.

Joy and Nolan Williams

I am writing you this letter because I have a dream of comforting children and their families through a special TMH program called SuperPup.

Would you take a few minutes to read this letter and learn how you can give the gift of comfort to a child? It would mean the world to me and my son, Nolan, and to thousands of children who receive care at TMH.

About a year ago, Nolan suffered an injury that required emergency surgery. I won’t go into details to protect Nolan’s privacy. (He’s a middle school boy, and the last thing he wants is his mom to broadcast the details of his life to the world. Not cool, Mom!) But this surgery was scary for Nolan and me.

Thanks to TMH’s partnership with Wolfson Children’s Hospital of Jacksonville, Nolan received a quick diagnosis here in Tallahassee and was referred to a specialist in Jacksonville for surgery. It was there that the nurses gave Nolan, who was 10 at the time, a special gift that eased his fears and planted the seed for my dream.

It was 10 o’clock at night, and I was sitting in the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit. I was worried and scared until I heard the nurses speaking to Nolan.

They gave him a stuffed animal – a tan puppy with big floppy ears – and said, “Here, hold this guy, and he will help you when you’re hurting.”

The nurses then demonstrated a splinting technique on the puppy. It was amazing to see them teaching this technique with a stuffed animal. They were teaching my child and comforting him at the same time.

Here’s what Nolan had to say about his new animal friend: “It was really cool that they thought of something that you can be supported with right after surgery, that when you’re coughing or scared, you can hold tight and that will help you out.”

As a parent, anything that comforts your child, comforts you. I was relieved because of a simple stuffed animal.

I immediately thought about the children I’ve seen at TMH. They come to our hospital to get their appendix out, they have a broken arm or leg, or they’ve experienced some sort of trauma. I thought, “We have to do this for our pediatric patients at TMH!”

When we returned to Tallahassee, I started researching hospital comfort animals and found the Vermont Teddy Bear Co., where the SuperPups are made. I created a plan and shared my dream with my supervisor, who said, “Yes! Let’s do it. Let’s get it started now.”

The SuperPup Program is on its way to becoming a reality. In celebration of their retirement, Rev. Brant S. Copeland, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, and his wife, Alexandra, director of First Presbyterian Preschool, are raising funds to help start SuperPup, but we still need your help to sustain this program for the future.

This holiday season, will you give the gift of comfort by purchasing a SuperPup for a child in the hospital?

Here’s how TMH will use these pups: We have two soft, cuddly SuperPups, a larger one for older children, and a smaller one for younger children. They will be our tool for comforting and teaching children about the treatment they will receive.

If a child is going to receive an IV, we will use the pup’s arm or leg to demonstrate how an IV is placed. If the child needs a cast, we can put casting material on the pup to match the child’s cast.

SuperPup is a best friend and a source of fun and comfort for children. I was so thankful Wolfson Children’s Hospital had this program, but children in Tallahassee need it too!

I’m a lifelong Tallahasseean. I’ve worked at TMH for 15 years, and both of my grandmothers worked here. This is my hospital for life, and my dream is to make this wonderful program available to our children.

Will you help by making a donation to purchase a SuperPup?

You also have the option of giving a SuperPup in honor of a loved one this holiday season by checking the box on the enclosed form. We will send your loved one a letter to inform them of your generosity.

TMH cares for 1,500 to 2,000 children annually who could receive a SuperPup. With your help, we can give these children a friend to help them through tough times.

Nolan and I are so happy to share our dream with you. Thank you for taking the time to read our letter.

Please join us in making SuperPup a reality for children in our community who really need a friend.

With heartfelt thanks,


Joy Signature No Background


Joy Williams RN, BS, MSN
Nurse Manager
General/Gyn/GYN ONC/Trauma Surgery Robotics Coordinator
Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare