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?”