Blank Children’s Hospital’s Festival of Trees and Lights will always hold a special place in my family’s heart.
A few days ago my youngest daughter turned eleven. Thanks to the memories feature on Facebook, I could easily look back at precious pictures from her previous birthday celebrations.
In her fourth birthday picture, she was wearing a pink sash while standing in front of a wagon filled with princess-themed presents. She had a visitor sticker positioned slightly below her bright sash. And the wagon was not outside in a park, or even in our living room, rather it was inside a hospital room.
We had her fourth birthday party in a hospital room. Because we had to. Because her brother was so very sick.
But it was still a happy birthday and a great day largely due to the efforts of a magical group of unsung heroes who work tirelessly to ensure the wellbeing of the patients and their family members at Blank Children’s Hospital.
The child life specialists.
Child life specialists are pediatric health care professionals who are employed in hospitals and clinics. Their focus is helping children and families cope with hospital stays, disability, and illness.
I do not know how our family would have made it through our extended hospital stays, intermittent emergency room visits, years of outpatient chemotherapy infusions, and frequent trips to the cancer and blood disorders clinic had it not been for the remarkable efforts of the child life staff at Blank.
The trees at the festival are stunning, and there are a variety of fun activities for kids and adults, but truthfully, the biggest reason I never miss is because I love knowing the money I spend there will contribute to this vital program.
As I walk around, mesmerized by the beautiful designs and colorful themed trees, I carefully read the stories of inspiration that are shared alongside the festive decorations.
Many tell of brave children who have shown unspeakable strength and courage in the midst of illness. Others tell about individuals and organizations that support children and families in their time of need.
One generous underwriter selected our family as a beneficiary of their tree a few years ago. It was delivered to our home fully decorated in bright rainbow-colored stripes.
As I put up that gorgeous tree each year I can’t help but reflect on our son’s journey. It also stands as a reminder of the many children and families who will be spending their holidays and birthdays in a hospital room fighting their own battles.
And so I make sure my family never misses the festival. I am comforted knowing children and families will continue to benefit from the services of Blank’s child life specialists throughout the holidays, on their birthdays, and every day in between.
Festival of Trees & Lights looks a little different this year. Wondering how you can still join in on the fun? Download Blank Children’s Hospital Festival of Trees & Lights app for fun activities like cookie decorating, schedule a zoom call with Santa, storytelling and decorate your own tree at home! Every $5 download is a donation to help patients and families. Download the app at festivaloftreeslive.com #FestivalforBlank
Be sure to head over to our Facebook page to be entered to win the great prize package shown above! The giveaway ends Friday, November 27, 2020, at midnight. Good luck!