While most children get to play outside and explore, some have to stay in the hospital. The bleak hospital life and struggling with symptoms can weigh heavily on a child’s mind. Fortunately, the caring staff and volunteers at hospitals invest time and money for these children to keep their hopes up. Some redecorate the entire building, while others bring in celebrities and entertainers to amuse the kids. Here are some of the most heartwarming ways in which hospitals and volunteers took time out of their days to bring a smile to these kids’ faces.
Kids Drive Mini Cars Into Surgery
The bright staff of Doctors Medical Center in Molesto, California, decided to ease the anxiety of going into surgery by letting kids drive small cars in the halls. These adorable tiny cars, fit for kids ages two through seven, put a smile on everyone’s faces, from the children to the parents to the nurses.
Kids could choose between a pink VW Beetle or a sleek black Mercedes. Patients can either drive the cars themselves or be transported using remote controls. The vehicles even include headlights, taillights, and a radio that the kids can jam out to!
Patients Become The Very Best, Like No One Ever Was
In Ann Arbor, Michigan, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital began using Pokémon GO in its hallways and surrounding University of Michigan campus to foster socialization for both parents and patients. The game pushes pediatric patients out of their rooms and away from their stress.
Jamie Mayo, a rehabilitation engineer at Mott, says the game brings both joy and normalcy to the patients’ lives. “They’re all hearing about the game from their friends at home, and now they feel like this is something they can participate in too,” she told Today.
Superheroes To The Rescue!
In 2018, children residing in Wesley Medical Center looked out their window to see Captain America, Green Lantern, and Spiderman climbing down the side of the hospital. Their mission? To rescue the patients from their usual boring and stressful hospital days.
The men dressed as superheroes were firefighters from Wichita Fire Department’s Station 4. They’ve have practiced side-of-building maneuvers for years, so the performance didn’t scare them. “It’s awesome to see the kids’ faces,” said firefighter Corey Lies, who played Spiderman. “They’re happy as can be.”
Boston Bruins Dress Up As Minions
The Boston Bruins gave the children at Boston Children’s Hospital a creative surprise on Halloween 2015. Each player dressed up as a character from Despicable Me–Zdeno Chara played Gru, and his “minions” included Jimmy Hayes, David Krejci, Torey Krug, and Tuuka Task.
The hockey players visited children individually to gift treats, signed autographs, and memorable pictures. “Just to be able to brighten their day a little bit means a lot to us,” Hayes said, “and it’s always a good time.”
Disney Princesses Color With Kids
In 2018, patients at the Florida Hospital for Children spent time with their favorite Disney on Ice performers. Five Disney character performers, including Moana and Belle, read books to the children and even colored with them.
“As a performer, being able to bring the magic to children means the world to me,” reported Tosha Hanford, who played Anna. The performers took time out of their “Disney On Ice Presents Dare to Dream!” routine practice to lighten the spirits of children and their families.
Hospital Turns Into A Racing Ground
In May 2014, patients and families in the Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital gathered around to watch the annual Big Air Kids Fair. This ware no ordinary fair, however. The main event featured the nation’s best freestyle Motocross riders backflipping across the hospital driveway.
The riders landed on a ramp outside the front entrance, greeted by cheers. After the show, they visited the children who could not leave the hospital and delivered toys and Moto gifts. “It was a lot of fun to watch the spark in the kids’ eyes,” reflected Billy Hughes, dean of the School of Pharmacy.
The Castle Of Care
Sanford Children’s Hospital in Sioux Falls, Canada, opened its doors to patients after a long preparation in 2009. It took so long because both the exterior and interior were designed just like a castle! The Castle of Care lands children in a magical healing facility based on a specially written fairytale called “The Legend of Sanford Castle.”
A coloring book guides children through all five floors, and all the murals displayed in the hallways were hand painted by local artists. Sanford’s former patients even designed the tiles found on the ceilings and floors. The hospital’s singular mission is to comfort children.
The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, designed its entire building to like a kid’s nature museum. The nature-inspired design gives patients a therapeutic backdrop and calming rooms. The hallways showcase hanging leaf sculptures and two-story-tall aquarium tanks.
Over 80% of the rooms have park views, and most are single occupancy. On top of that, the hospital partnered with the Melbourne Zoo to host educational activities for patients and their families inside the hospital. The design excites and educates patients during their scariest hours.
At Waters Avenue Hospital, a new kind of doctor occasionally visits the pediatric patients there. These doctors are fluffy, tail-waging, collar-wearing medicine. Therapy dogs bring smiles to the young patients, and at the end of the “dog days” of summer, the dog owners throw a perfect pup party that includes doggie treats and lots of hugs.
Ten dogs cheered up the patients and staff in 2018, including a rescued poodle, two long-haired dachshunds, a boxer, and others. The dogs are trained as therapy animals and remain relaxed around kids, so that every child can pet their favorite dog.
Hospital Staff Wears Bright And Zany Tutus
Every “Tutu Tuesday,” employees at the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Florida wear neon tutus around the hospital to make the kids laugh. The tradition began one summer in 2014, sparked by the resident clown “Lotsy” Linda Herbert to distract a child before surgery.
Herbert convinced another doctor to put on the tutu, which made patients smile. Since then, over 150 staff members wear silly matching skirts.”It’s just fun,” Herbert later said. “To make even one child smile–that’s powerful.”
Over 30,000 Handmade Cards
In 2014, Children’s Hospital ran a segment on Eyewitness News asking for Valentine’s Day cards that they could deliver to hospitalized children on the day of love. The viewers didn’t disappoint — Children’s Hospital received over 30,000 cards by that February!
The Children’s Hospital distributed the customized cards throughout 35 clinics in the Southern California area. Not only did the patients receive love and well wishes from caring volunteers, but the hospital workers all went through the day with smiles on their faces.
Disney Gives Personal Valentine’s Day Cards
Early in 2019, Disney animators drew heartwarming cards for the patients at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. Disney’s Business Development and Disney Volunt-EARS teamed up with the runners at the Disney Princess Half Marathon to illustrate these inspirational cards.
The runners of the Disney Princess Half Marathon colored cards of Mickey and Minnie Mouse and customized each card. They poured their hearts into personal messages, making each card just right for its recipient. The letters were later delivered by Disney Volunt-EARS who showed up at the hospital with a basket full of cards.
Build-A-Bear Lends A Helping Hand
For the past several years, former leukemia patient Emily Love and her parents have brought Build-A-Bear to the pediatric patients of the UC Davis Children’s Hospital. They raise money through their crowdfunding website to surprise children with their new stuffed animals.
Children are ushered into the playroom where they find stuffed bears, dogs, bunnies and cats waiting for them. The kids pick their new friend, put in the special satin heart, and watch UC Davis surgical residents sew up their stuffed animals. To top it off, every child receives a “condo” cardboard house so their friend can live right next door.
Texas Rangers Pull A Magical Performance
In September 2018, Rangers’ first basemen Ronald Guzman asked seven-year-old Charley Davis to pick a card. He pulled the queen of spades. After some shuffling, Guzman dwindled the cards down to three. He flicked two down to the table and held up Charley’s queen of spades with a wide smile.
This was one of Guzman’s favorite moments during the Texas Rangers’ trip to Medical City Children’s Hospital. Guzman and his teammate Isiah Kiner-Falefa visited patients around the hospital while distributing 100 Starlight Brave Gowns with the Rangers logo. They blessed kids’ lives and raised awareness for Childhood Cancer.
Cowboys Cheer On Patients
For over 30 years, the Dallas Cowboys and cheerleaders have visited children staying in hospitals throughout northern Texas. The team normally divides into four groups to cook, sign autographs, talk to families, and give out "game socks" loaded with Cowboys-themed presents.
The presents are made by the United Healthcare Children’s Foundation, in honor of the holiday season. The players say that making these visits each year keeps them more grounded than any wins or losses on the football field.
Seattle Seahawks Bring The Christmas Spirit
In early December 2015, the Seattle Seahawks brought the spirit of Christmas to Seattle Children’s Hospital. Patients, parents, and families got to meet their favorite football players, and take pictures with each that would last a lifetime.
Some of the Seattle Seahawk’s pictures included six-month-old Olivia Clifton who suffers from a genetic bone condition, and nine-year-old Gabby Krueger, who had been in and out of the hospital for most of her life. The players even got to celebrate with Gabby who, after 14 weeks in the hospital, was able to go home the next week.
Santa Claus Spreads Christmas Cheer
In 2013, the annual Toys for Tots delivery creatively distributed toys to patients. They and members of the U.S. Marine Corps brought Santa Claus to deliver new stuffed animals to all the good children.
Santa visited the Children’s Hospital & Medical Center during Christmastime in December. Santa and the Marines greeted children and families in the group areas first. Later, they visited individual patients’ rooms, delivering each of their toys personally. They successfully gifted Christmas to each child’s life.
Dec My Room Decorates A Hospital Bed
Hospital rooms can feel sterile and unfriendly to a child. But thanks to Dec My Room Los Angeles, a non-profit organization that revamps pediatric hospital rooms, patients can feel more comfortable and happier.
In 2013, the friendly staff dragged wagons full of decorations into the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to transform the dull white spaces into Hello Kitty and monster truck havens. Chloe Gutierrez, who was recovering from an automobile accident, returned to her room to find Hello Kitty everywhere. And Casey Fisher, whose whole family loves monster trucks, got to see a wagon of gifts rolling up to his bed.
Construction Workers Give Back More
In Missouri, IBEW Local 1 electricians grew to know the children at Children’s Hospital in St. Louis. While working on the hospital windows, young patients would peer at their work or wave. All inspired the IBEW workers to give $4,000 back to the kids.
In 2016, children at the hospital produced a 10-page wishlist for the workers. IBEW then raised enough money to purchase gifts for 264, giving them precisely what they wished for. IBEW worker John Peniston told KSDK-TV that “The smiles on those kid’s faces were enough for us.”
‘Project Night Lights’ Dazzles Patients
On one summer night in Michigan, police cruisers and fire trucks lined the front streets of Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and flashed every single one of their lights. They even turned on cell phone lights and flashlights from outside their vehicles. The patients, who watched from several floors above, used flashlights to signal back.
Grand Rapids Police Lt. Kristen Rogers said they started the display “just to show them that we care, that we know that they are in there fighting for their lives.” The hospital has repeated Project Night Lights twice a month since 2018.