Nazmiyal And Pinwheel Project Foundation

#NazmiyalGivesBack: The Pinwheel Project Foundation

On a chilly evening in March of 2017, in the 4th largest cathedral in the world at the opening of The Barberini Tapestries exhibition, Jason Nazmiyal met the founder of a small but enormously magical foundation: The Pinwheel Project. Her name is Sandee Martensen.

The Pinwheel Project Logo Nazmiyal

The Pinwheel Project Logo Nazmiyal

Within minutes of chatting with Sandee about her mission to bring joy and light to children who have been diagnosed with severe illnesses, Jason knew they were meant to meet, and work together. Blessed with three healthy children, Jason had been looking for a way to pay it forward and The Pinwheel Project struck a string for him.

Taylor & Andrew

The Pinwheel Project Kids - Taylor & Andrew. Nazmiyal NYC

The Pinwheel Project Kids – Taylor & Andrew. Nazmiyal NYC

The Pinwheel Project Foundation is a small non-profit organization dedicated to bringing light and joy to children with long term hospital stays and palliative care through various acts of kindness. For instance, Sandee and her volunteers decorate children’s rooms, bring around a cart of candy and treats for the children, supply them with requested toys, help their families with funeral expenses and more. Sandee has names for the various branches of kindness she provides. Here’s a bit more information on  the different aspects of what Sandee and her volunteers do:

The Goodie Cart: A decorated cart filled with goodies and snacks that Sandee brings to each child’s room, bearing cheer, incomparable warmth, and a heart that hardly fits through the door. The children have a chance to chat with Sandee about anything they would like. It is a great way for Sandee and her volunteers to get to know the kids.

The BMT Pantry: Providing snacks for children who are enduring bone marrow transplants with specific dietary restraints.

The Comfort Zone: This program fulfills the wish list of children who will be staying at the hospital for an extended period of time, providing them with things that will make their environment more fun and personalized. These items might include toys, art supplies, books, snacks, electronics, and more.

Palliative Care/Hospice: For children facing a life-limiting diagnoses, The Pinwheel Project believes in overcoming the darkness through the power of love and joy. In spite of the heaviness that comes with these unfathomable circumstances, The Pinwheel Project provides light through conversation, gifts, treats and experiences unique to each child’s wishes.

The Burial Fund: For a parent, the very thought of losing a child is impossible. Yet it is a tragedy many families are faced with. For those who are less fortunate, this most painful process is additionally burdened by the expense of a funeral. The Pinwheel Project provides a fund for these families to assist with funeral and burial costs.

The Pinwheel Project believes in using their imagination and resources to make magical things happen for children who are restricted to the circumstances of their illnesses. Their happiness is The Pin Wheel Project’s priority. This is a mission that Nazmiyal Antique Rugs is not only proud, but grateful and privileged to support.

If you are curious to see the joy The Pinwheel Project brings to these children, please take a moment to look at a few of the lives they have through these photos and Sandee’s words.

Scott McMurray (November 29th 1988 – April 27th 2011)

Scott McMurray (November 29th 1988 - April 27th 2011),PinWheel Project, Nazmiyal NYC

Scott McMurray (November 29th 1988 – April 27th 2011),PinWheel Project, Nazmiyal NYC

Scott  was diagnosed with terminal Cancer at the age of 19 during his semester break from college. Of course he was extremely depressed and we tried in vain to find something that would lift his spirits. It wasn’t until we suggested skydiving that we hit pay dirt.  I believe this photo was from his second jump (first time is a bit more frightening!) and I hope you can see the absolute joy on his face.  Scott went on to do 18 jumps that summer and we were all amazed when he  was inspired to go back to school that Fall. How thrilling that he made it through the entire year before relapsing the following Fall. Oh yeah – he was a HUGE Beatles fan and a GREAT kid.


Nehir, Pinwheel Project, Nazmiyal NYC

Nehir, Pinwheel Project, Nazmiyal NYC

We lost this beautiful little girl in 2010 but not before she spent 3 years bringing sunshine to all of us.  Nehir was battling Neuroblastoma at Memorial Sloan Kettering when we met her and her family at the Ronald McDonald House (RMH). This photo was taken at a Ben & Jerry’s “Sundae Sunday” we sponsored for all the residents at RMH.  Her mom later wrote to us saying she remembered how happy it made Nehir that day. We are all so grateful that we were able to bring some sunshine into her life.


Easton, Pinwheen Project, Nazmiyal NYC

Easton, Pinwheen Project, Nazmiyal NYC

It was through a friend that we learned about Easton. Since they live in Arkansas we sent loads of toys and fun to him on a regular basis. Easton is such a brave little guy and thankfully has been able to beat his cancer! The Pinwheel foundation rejoices!

Hector’s Comfort Zone

Hector's Comfort Zone, Pinwheel Project, Nazmiyal NYC

Hector’s Comfort Zone, Pinwheel Project, Nazmiyal NYC

When Hector was told that he would be having a Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) the docs told us that he immediately started making his “My Comfort Zone” request list. Hector chose a “Hollywood” theme for his room and we supplied everything he requested plus a red carpet and velvet ropes.  I understand the staff even played the theme from “Rocky” while escorting him into his room!  Most of the kids from the Oncology Unit are familiar with the My Comfort Zone program and we are told that it seems to lessen much of the fear and anxiety surrounding the long and difficult procedure. We couldn’t be happier to provide this for these children.

Happy Baby

Happy baby, Pinwheel Project, Nazmiyal NYC

Happy baby, Pinwheel Project, Nazmiyal NYC

This sweet and happy baby came to the hospital from the Middle East with just her mom.  Though there was a language barrier, nothing stopped this adorable little girl from smiling every time she saw us and the Pinwheel Goodie Cart. We were able to bring her toys and lots of company to make things easier while she waited for a new heart.

Andrew and The Troopers

Andrew and The Troopers, Pinwheel Project, Nazmiyal NYC

Andrew and The Troopers, Pinwheel Project, Nazmiyal NYC

We learned about Andrew through the internet.  After reaching out to his family in Idaho we discovered that he’d been diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. We wanted to help. They told us that he was a huge Lego fan and an even bigger Star Wars fan. Our first job was to send him a big box of toys that included loads of Legos.

Next we contacted some wonderful supporters of our cause from a large international group who dress in authentic Star Wars Costumes. Our local group (the Empire City Garrison) contacted another Garrison covering the Pacific Northwest and asked if they could possibly pay a visit to our new friend. All reports were that the day was a huge success.  We are also thrilled to report that Andrew, now 17 is in total remission and doing great.


Apryl, Pinwheel Project, Nazmiyal NYC

Apryl, Pinwheel Project, Nazmiyal NYC

Apryl was referred to us via Miami Children’s Hospital. She was going into isolation for a Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) for quite a while and they requested lots of things to keep her busy.  Happily we were able to fill that request and bring her lots of hours of fun and playtime. We’ve learned that sending a fully stocked play kitchen was a total home run!

Cupcake Cutie

Cupcake Cutie, Pinwheel Project, Nazmiyal NYC

Cupcake Cutie, Pinwheel Project, Nazmiyal NYC

This little lady and her family were residents at Ronald McDonald House NYC (RMHNYC) while she was being treated for a blood cancer. She was also a guest at a dinner hosted by The Pinwheel Project for about 200 kids and family members living at RMH NYC during their cancer treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering. After dinner everyone had fun decorating cupcakes for the whole family.

These are just a few of the amazing lives The Pinwheel Project Foundation has been lucky enough to touch. Nazmiyal Antique Rugs has chosen to get behind The Pinwheel Project Foundation as their focused philanthropy venture because they are a small charity making HUGE positive impacts on children’s lives. Moving forward a percentage of all sales from The Nazmiyal Collection will be donated to The Pinwheel Project Foundation to contribute to these small acts of kindness that make enormous differences in children’s lives.

The Pinwheel Project’s website is currently under construction, but in the meantime, if you would like to donate or volunteer with The Pinwheel Project, please contact Sandee Martensen at:

Ready to help us spread the word? Tag your posts with #NazmiyalGivesBack and lets get the ball rolling together!

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