CHICAGO — Once upon a time about 10 years ago, WGN’s Medical Watch team met Jen Rubino.

Back then, Rubino was a patient laying in a hospital bed, recovering from major reconstructive surgery when she received a kind, yet simple gesture.

Someone made her a card.

“At the time, I had just had major surgery here at Lurie [Children’s Hospital],” Rubino said of the experience. “I had received a card when I was in the hospital, and it really meant a lot to me … so at the time I was wanting to help others in the same way.”

Rubino — a Park Ridge native and former gymnast — founded Cards for Hospitalized Kids shortly thereafter. Ten years later, the organization has helped deliver over 500,000 handmade cards to kids who are recovering from various medical ailments in hospitals around the country.

Thousands of people have volunteered to help the organization, but what helped Cards for Hospitalized Kids grow so quickly was an endorsement from celebrities like Lauren Conrad and Aly Raisman.

“It meant a lot to me personally,” Rubino said. “It was so impactful and was really a huge part of why cards for kids was able to grow so fast.”

Now a college student, Rubino balances her studies with running her non-profit, which she has no plans of of slowing down.

“I would like to be able to keep it going,” Rubino said. “We’ve had such great support, I think that will be possible.”

If you would like to volunteer for Cards for Hospitalized Kids — or earn service hours — you can visit their website for more information.