It was love at first sight on a chilly day at the ZSL London Zoo
when Julianna picked up a brown furry sloth with the longest arms
she had ever seen. Julianna, along with her brother and sister
loved to visit new zoos. They have a tradition that each time they
visit a new zoo they adopt a new stuffed animal.
It was March 2017 only 3 months after Julianna had been
diagnosed with DIPG brain cancer. We had traveled to London,
England for an experimental procedure/treatment for DIPG. But
before her surgery we made it a priority to visit the ZSL London
Zoo for the day. During our visit one of Julianna's favorite
exhibits had been the Sloths.
We asked her if she might like to choose a smaller stuffed animal that would be easier to travel with but she adamantly claimed the Sloth with the long arms was the perfect stuffed animal to remember her visit to the London Zoo. She named her Sloth "Cuddles" because she could wrap his long arms around her neck and velcro his hands together and enjoy the cuddles he offered while we traveled. From that moment on Julianna never went anywhere without Cuddles!
Cuddles traveled with Julianna to five different countries during her fight against DIPG. She told us he was "an adventurous Sloth" and she dreamed of one day taking Cuddles to visit real Sloths in the Jungle of Costa Rica. Cuddles faithfully went with Julianna as she walked into OR rooms for brain surgeries, when she needed her port accessed, IV's placed and MRI/CT scans performed. Her doctors and nurses loved to play with Cuddles long arms and always looked for Julianna's Sloth snuggled up next to her whenever they visited. Cuddles quickly became her mascot along with "Suzie" the Cozy Cat she received from the American Childhood Cancer Organization the day after she was diagnosed.
Since Julianna passed away on August 18, 2017 Cuddles has remained a special
partner in the Julianna Sayler Foundation in honor of his Little Lady. He will always
have a special presence at important family events and new adventures. Julianna
really adored this cuddly sloth and we feel a bit closer to her with Cuddles around.