A really good day.

So, yesterday. BIG DAY for Make Room for Kids.

I arrived at Children’s at 9:30 a.m. to meet up with Jenn Strang from IKEA who came bearing the carts, and to wait for the rest of the crew who were due to arrive at 9:45.

At exactly 9:45 a.m., and I do mean exactly, and I asked and they swore they didn’t wait up the block, Microsoft pulled into the main entrance circle at Children’s with a caravan of SUVs where eight employees, grinning from ear-to-ear, hopped out and got to work unloading carts and carts of equipment and gifts for the kids.

That’s Luke Sossi there in the green. If you ever see him on the street, you should grab him and hug him because this man is an angel on Earth. Don’t worry. I’ll bail you out.

We then headed up to the seventh floor playroom where Microsoft stacked up the XBOXs to prepare them for installation in the rooms and to give us a chance to take a few pictures of such a wonderful display of generosity.

That’s Nancy Angus from the Mario Lemieux Foundation there on the right. She was a huge help in not only working with Microsoft and the hospital to make this happen, but also in sort of being the official voice for Make Room for Kids yesterday. She’ll continue to be a huge help as we roll out Phase II in the coming weeks, which means another trip for me and Mike to the Mario Lemieux Foundation offices, which hopefully means an opportunity for me to steal some Mario-autographed stuff off the walls.

Microsoft also came armed with a giant box of kid-friendly movies:

As well as an entire Rock Band set up, including guitars, microphones and drums.  Here’s Mike going nuts on the drums:

Immediately after that picture was taken, he bit the head off of a bat.  True story.

The kiosks are fantastic and super easy to wheel around.

In the background there is David Severino, the Microsoft XBOX guru. You guys, HE WAS WEARING X-BOX SNEAKERS! Love.

My inspiration, nine-year-old leukemia patient Genre Baker and his mother came and we put him to work putting stickers on all the games and movies.

And here’s where I cried a little, because two minutes before this picture was snapped I was telling Genre how he inspired everything he was seeing happening and so, yeah, tears from me:

I was just so glad he got to come and witness the good that came out of his fight against leukemia, which is a fight he is completely winning.  When I saw him a couple months ago, he had practically no hair and was wearing a surgical mask at church. Then when I saw him just a month ago, he had shed the mask and his hair was growing.  Yesterday, his mother told me he had just had to get a haircut and that his latest blood work was fantastic! I expect a tap-out from leukemia real soon.

After we took pictures, it was installation time. Have you ever tapped an ant hill with your foot and suddenly, the ants are all, “FIRE FIRE FIRE!!!” and hurriedly scatter every which direction? That’s basically what happened. Luke gave the signal and the Microsoft employees and Mike grabbed XBOXs, which were already labeled for each room, grabbed extra controllers, grabbed cables, fanned out and got to work, installing 23 XBOXs in under two hours. There was one room they couldn’t install, simply due to the health of the child. So, keep that kiddo in your thoughts and prayers that he or she will be well enough to use the XBOX soon.

I had a chance to talk to a few of the kids, which I loved.  They’re so strong. Really strong. Way stronger than me.

In one of the rooms, the mother of an infant transplant patient requested games for the newly installed XBOX so that she could pass some time, which is something I hadn’t even considered — that parents of smaller children might get some use out of “big-kid” games. That thrilled us all.

Here’s a little video that Children’s put together.  You’ll get to see Microsoft at work and you’ll hear from one of the patients.  You’ll notice I don’t talk in this video and that’s because I was very adamant that yesterday be about you guys and about Microsoft and about the kids. Not me. And I know I’m sounding like a broken record about that, but better it be that record than say, Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You,” of which my tennis coach once said, “When does she come up for air?”

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  1. Scot Edgell
    April 30, 2010 2:07 pm

    Standing O!

  2. Roxy
    April 30, 2010 2:31 pm

    As tears roll down my face…. That is awesome! Thanks for sharing the story and pics!

  3. Sooska
    April 30, 2010 3:16 pm

    *stands. clap clap clap clap clap* WOOOOOO!

  4. TripleC
    April 30, 2010 3:35 pm

    Pensgirl – great point. Reminds me of the time Ginny dropped that gem of a high school photo on us and immediately went on a posting craze in order to dump it to page 2.

  5. Monty
    April 30, 2010 3:44 pm

    Unless I missed an assholish comment somewhere above, ditto to everything everyone else has said. I hope it takes the edge off of what those little rascals and their families are going through a bit.

  6. Bram R
    April 30, 2010 4:26 pm

    Lovely. Inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Danielle
    April 30, 2010 4:28 pm

    Pittsburghers get stuff done. This is very inspirational. Thanks for your tireless work, Ginny.

  8. Matt
    April 30, 2010 4:29 pm

    Thanks for shining so much light on this. It’s hard to imagine any effort more worthwhile.

  9. Bram R
    April 30, 2010 4:33 pm

    Handhelds. Awesome.

    “This is the stash we were able to provide.” I want that like on a coin.

  10. Luke Steelerstahl
    April 30, 2010 4:39 pm

    Anyone have any ideas how I can steal this idea and pass it off as my own come election time?

  11. Linda
    April 30, 2010 4:40 pm

    I think Mr. Rogers said it best” It’s a wonderful day in the neighborhood.” Ginny, thank you from all the kids today and in the tomorrows to come.

  12. Kathy
    April 30, 2010 5:37 pm

    Thanks for sharing the pictures and video Ginny! It was a terrific collective effort by everyone involved, and the kid waiting for his xbox to be installed made me cry.

    Great work!

  13. A Different Amy
    April 30, 2010 5:42 pm

    I love my town! A heartfelt thank you to each and every person who made this possible.

  14. megrcam51
    April 30, 2010 6:08 pm

    Cried like a baby the whole video. My son had to go to Children’s once very recently and as worried and scared to death as I was, I was so humbled by how much sicker the other kids were and how I got to take my little guy home with me safe and sound. God bless you all at Microsoft, Ikea, and especially Ginny.

  15. Barb
    April 30, 2010 7:35 pm

    I couldn’t comment the first time I read this due to watery eyes, but this is just Awesome with a capital A!

  16. cmd_45
    April 30, 2010 7:35 pm

    Kudos to you and every one involved. So great to know there are some truly selfless people out there!

  17. richrovs
    April 30, 2010 8:49 pm

    Can’t watch the video, I’ll cry like a baby. Great job. your hair looks nice by the way.

  18. Barry
    April 30, 2010 10:05 pm

    Ginny, your Dad and I are not only cousins, but we were best friends when we were kids. Officially, I guess that makes you my “second cousin”. Even if we weren’t related, I still couldn’t tell you how proud I am of you. You are truly awesome!

  19. Bojack
    April 30, 2010 10:32 pm

    MAZEL TOV!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    (and just what is wrong with exclamation points???? They’re….huh…….EXCLAMATORY!!!!!!!!!!!!)

    :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)

  20. xkhookx
    April 30, 2010 11:08 pm

    The boy in the red shirt is my little cousin, Genre:) Thanks for posting this video!! You all are amazing<3

  21. Wendielu
    May 1, 2010 12:18 am

    Well, this just made me cry and cry. <3 Happy, proud tears, of course. God, I wish I had a million dollars to give you….

  22. Cari
    May 1, 2010 1:40 am

    2nd what Bojack said: MAZEL TOV!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. mary Ann Napoleone
    May 1, 2010 9:53 am

    You and the Microsoft Crew make me proud to be from Pgh., a small city with a BIG HEART.

  24. Wardy
    May 1, 2010 10:01 am

    Awesome job! Makes me proud to be a Pittsburgher, and even more proud to know and have worked with many of the Microsoft people involved!

  25. bp
    May 1, 2010 12:25 pm

    wow! Fantastic !

  26. katsbynp
    May 1, 2010 12:27 pm

    Wow! Did not get a chance to read this yesterday and have tears flowing as I write this. We can be proud to have made a difference. Fantastic job! Special thanks to Ginny, Mike, Mario Lemieux Foundation IKEA and those special employees of Microsoft in Pittsburgh.

  27. DuranieGirl
    May 1, 2010 3:31 pm

    you rock!

  28. Lisa J
    May 1, 2010 7:34 pm

    Finally had time to quietly sit and read this/watch the video. All I can say is wow. ***tears, lots of happy, proud tears***

    Yinz are truely superheros.

  29. Ed Gratton
    May 1, 2010 8:16 pm

    Awesome work! Proud to have you as friends :-) Totally awesome…what a blessing to the kids!

  30. Schuyler
    May 1, 2010 10:37 pm

    Proud, proud tears of joy. Thank you Ginny, Mike, Microsoft and all the readers of this blog … this is why Pittsburgh is the best city in the world!!

  31. Erin
    May 1, 2010 11:48 pm

    Thanks so much for your work. My cousin has spent more time at Children’s in the last two years than at home, but kidney number three seems to be the charm. I know that he had a great experience there, but would have loved an XBox in his room. I’m out in the flats of Cbus, OH, but love to see the work that’s going on back home in the Burgh.

  32. Carol P
    May 2, 2010 4:56 pm

    sent to 19 year old daughter laboring over a college essay on “The Meaning of Life”. Sometimes when you think being a “regular person” has no power you watch something like this and realize you are wrong. Yea!!!

  33. Bill
    May 2, 2010 11:07 pm

    I am fortunate enough to have a personal connection to this story… my wife is one of the AMAZING nurses on that particular unit. By providing these generous gifts, you have given so much more than you will ever be able to understand…. these children and their families sometimes spend YEARS on the unit, a gift such as this will provide such a distraction from the long stays…
    As a husband who see’s how attached and emotionally connected his wife becomes to these children, this gesture is beyond words.
    Words really cannot express …..
    Thank You everyone for pulling together and doing this for these children!

  34. Bill
    May 3, 2010 6:57 am

    WOW …….. This really shows how great people are and how some companies will help ….

    Ginny, your such an amazing person !

  35. JennE
    May 3, 2010 9:40 am

    This is SO wonderful. Teary just reading it. Thank you for all that you do to inpsire and facilitate important things like this.

  36. red pen mama
    May 3, 2010 10:05 am

    AWESOME. Thanks for the update.

    Where can I get one of those nifty green tee-shirts?

  37. CrashJK
    May 3, 2010 2:33 pm

    Nice Job…well done gang ! Congrats ! and Ginny…love the new “locks” and that Crosby t-shirt…priceless…the boys at PensBlog would give you a high five for that…

    Bury it BING…Bury it !

  38. PAYD
    May 6, 2010 9:16 am

    Excellent Crosby t-shirt…bing!

  39. Mermanda
    May 7, 2010 3:32 pm

    *round of applause* Awesome!

  40. Hannah
    November 9, 2010 9:00 pm

    I was wondering if we may use the picture of the little boy playing video games. This picture will be used in a video for our Nursing 140 class on Gaming in Health Care.

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