A good day 2.0

(Luke Sossi of Microsoft is prepped to enter the room of a patient in isolation)

Today was install day at Children’s Hospital as a team of local Microsoft employees, the Mario Lemieux Foundation, and me, Mike and Chachi arrived armed with thousands and thousands of dollars worth of goodies for the Adolescent Medicine unit, and let me tell you, these kids wasted no time in grabbing a controller and a game and getting to work on the business of forgetting for a bit about their aches and pains and worries.


(This little girl was just, oh, she has my heart.)

But I’m ahead. Let’s back up so that you can experience install day from the beginning.

Arrival! Like Santa Claus, only better. And, you know, real. (Don’t tell my kid.)

Luke Sossi, commander in chief, gathers the team in the conference room and briefs them on how it’s all going to work.  I resist the urge to try for a closer close-up shot.

(photo courtesy of Luke Sossi)

Then, grab an Xbox and get to work. [snap of the whip]!

While they’re busy installing, let me show you what your donated dollars bought for the kids on this floor.

First up, TWELVE iPAD 2s. TWELVE. TWELVE!!!!! iPAD2s!!!!!!!!

Oh, heck. Let’s throw a bit more punctuation on that. Twelve!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We increased the number of iPads for this floor because they’re sort of an all-in-one console that can be used for gaming, email, music, movies, art, e-reading, etc. as well as something that Mike thought of when he encouraged us to go with the latest version of the device: the ability of the kids to use the iPad2 camera to Skype or use Facetime to talk with their friends and family who are far away or who they haven’t seen in a while.

Virtual contact with their lives and loved ones outside of the hospital walls.

[fist bump]

Otterbox has once again generously agreed to donate covers for these iPads and we’ll get those to the hospital as soon as they’re available.

We also gave the hospital about $200 in iTunes cards for use with these.

[gameshow host voice] And that’s not all! We also provided the hospital with 10 headphones to be used with the iPads or even the Xboxs. You can see some of them there on the left as well as all the games we dropped off today.

Did I mention games?

LOTS OF GAMES that you guys purchased via the Amazon wishlist!

Big thanks to IKEA Pittsburgh for once again donating these rolling, locking carts to us:

Hi, Nancy!

(That’s Dan Potash’s back. SQUEEE!)

You might think that’s it. What else could there possibly be? What more could we give other than an Xbox in every room, 12 iPad 2s, headphones, and all these games?

I’m going to tell you!

We also upgraded the TV in the lounge where the kids can play the new donated Kinect. The old TV was like 32 inches and when we saw it last month we said, “NOT. BIG. ENOUGH.”

So we bought them one with more cowbell.

Mike and Chachi were charged with installing the new, improved, cowbellalicious, more bang for your donated buck TV.

I did my part by standing next to Chachi, snapping his picture and saying helpful things like, “DON’T DROP IT.”

(Ah, that’s much better.)

Puny TV no more.

Is that all, you ask? Surely that’s all, you say.

That’s not all!

This floor does a lot of scrapbooking, perhaps as a way to document their frequent hospital visits or to just pass time in a creative way. So we purchased for them a top-of-the-line Cricut machine, various tools and cartridges for the machine, as well as three digital cameras with cases, and a new printer along with a stash of photo paper and extra memory cards.


Now, I THINK that is all.

The “frequent fliers” of the Adolescent Medicine unit went from sharing one Xbox to having one Xbox to each bed as well as 12 iPads!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, and lots and lots more, thanks to generous Microsoft employees and thanks to YOU.

You know, we walked out of that hospital with a sense of satisfaction, but also a sense of gratitude that we were given the opportunity to help, and as for me personally, a sense of sadness that we were leaving behind all of those sick children who want nothing more than to walk out of there too.

At least for the frequent fliers in there, they’ve got a lot of new toys to keep their brains busy while their bodies fight on.

I should have a video to share with you soon and then we’ll look ahead to Make Room for Kids 3.0 because there’s still a whole hospital of sick kids we haven’t met yet.

Thanks again, so much, to you, and you, and you there, and to Luke and Microsoft, and Chachi and Mike and the Mario Lemieux Foundation for taking on this project and nurturing it into something lasting.

Group hug!



  1. Beatrice
    April 12, 2011 11:25 pm

    Absolutely fantastic.

  2. Bram R
    April 12, 2011 11:36 pm

    Nice. I went hunting thru the post a 2nd time to find something special to compliment, and I re-read the part about the camera and camera gadgets. NICE. And now I am imagining all the children of the floor linked up with audio and conducting Call of Duty Special Ops raids or whatever.

  3. Jonathan
    April 12, 2011 11:41 pm

    What a way to head to bed for the night. A beautiful story, beautifully told, an extraordinary deed for such beautiful children. Congrats to you, Mike and Chachi! One important thing missing, though–where’s the pic of you?

  4. Kacie
    April 12, 2011 11:57 pm

    Woo hoo! Thanks for putting this together!

  5. dan
    April 13, 2011 1:11 am

    IKEA sign on the bookshelf, Everyone wearing Xbox t shirts. “make sure this girl poses with a xbox hat.” Does this look a little like corporate abuse of sick children?

  6. Jill
    April 13, 2011 5:42 am

    What a great post to start my Wednesday!

    All smiles here.

    Awesome work!

  7. Max
    April 13, 2011 7:18 am

    God bless!!!

  8. tehamy
    April 13, 2011 8:20 am

    I really need to stop reading these posts at work. They bring me to tears every time. Good job everyone! And thanks to Ginny, Mike, Chachi, Microsoft and everyone else for all that they did to make this happen!

  9. Virginia
    April 13, 2011 8:40 am


    Allow me to put your mind at ease.

    When this project was in its infancy, IKEA Pittsburgh hopped on board by offering to donate $5,000 worth of furniture and design for a game room. We ended up not being able to accept that donation, but IKEA has never turned me down when I ask them to donate these carts or anything else we need for this project or fundraisers for it. IKEA did not ask to brand these carts, I ASKED THEM TO PLEASE DO IT.

    It was my way of wanting to make sure that IKEA gets some recognition for their desire to help with MR4K and for never once asking anything in return. Not once.

    As for the Xbox hats. Microsoft came armed with those hats and also Xbox shirts to hand out to the kids, like they did last time. The kids LOVE those things and we did not ask them to put them on, but most of them did.

    That little girl came out with her father to find me in the hallway while I was snapping photos and told me she wanted to have her picture taken and told me which room to find her in.

    So I went and visited her for a few minutes by her bed and then she sat on the couch and let me snap her photo. She never took that hat off.

    When we were done with the installs and gathered in an atrium overlooking the streets below, a teen came in with his father to look at the view. He was wearing his hat and his Xbox shirt and was clutching two Xbox games in his hands.

    The kids simply love those gifts from Microsoft and that’s what they were. Gifts from the employees of the local Microsoft office, who by the way personally donated the money for the Xboxs.

    They are good people, as are the people at IKEA, and I will shout that from the rooftops not caring a flip if it sounds like a commercial.

  10. Margaret
    April 13, 2011 9:01 am

    Great story to read first thing in the morning. You guys ROCK!!

  11. Former Journalist
    April 13, 2011 9:03 am

    Dan will be interested to know that mainstream media photojournalists have agonized over whether to remove branded products from photos or footage — the prominent Coke can on someone’s coffee table, for instance — and decided they can’t do so ethically. They have to document what they find, even if it’s an inadvertent plug.

    In this instance, the corporate logos were there not by pure happenstance but because of (savvy) generosity. So be it. And thanks be to them! Amen.

  12. Lisa
    April 13, 2011 9:12 am

    I am in awe of your ability to get such fantastic work done. You are simply amazing – THANK YOU!

  13. Cindy T.
    April 13, 2011 9:16 am

    That’s beautiful

  14. Dave
    April 13, 2011 9:51 am

    I just shed a tear reading this. If only it was easy to organize something like this would be great to do in the Raleigh/Chapel Hill hospitals.

  15. rickh
    April 13, 2011 9:51 am

    Nice work Ginny. Virtual high five to all involved.

  16. Dan (Not Onorato)
    April 13, 2011 10:05 am

    Well done.

    Congrats to all involved!

  17. bluzdude
    April 13, 2011 10:08 am

    Once again, you demonstrate why you’re the Queen of Getting Shit Done.

    Great story to start the morning.

    Oh, and never underestimate the drawing power of good swag. I mean, where would John Deere be without the hats?

  18. Jonathan
    April 13, 2011 10:25 am

    Your efforts are amazing! My only concern is that sick kids will not try and get better because the stuff at the hospital is sooooooooo coooooooool! I think your next move should be to equip the adult hospitals. We need distraction too!

  19. ajm
    April 13, 2011 10:29 am

    I’m tearing up. This is wonderful.

  20. Lee
    April 13, 2011 10:46 am

    Yeah Dan, those kids grinning from ear to ear about getting the chance to play with all of those donated games really look abused by those corporate donors.
    Why does there always have to be someone who will look at a beautiful story like this only to search and search for something to pick at.
    These donations will not cure these children, but they will help them act like children, which every child deserves. Can’t we all just focus on that, please?
    To everyone invovled in this effort, thank you. Thank you for the donations, thank you for the generosity and thanks for inviting the rest of us and our pennies to help make a difference in this project. It’s amazing.

  21. Butcher's Dog
    April 13, 2011 10:50 am

    Dan Potash’s back gets a squeeee? Seriously? Honey, you need to get out more.

  22. red pen mama
    April 13, 2011 11:00 am

    1. YAY!

    2. Are you saying something about Santa there? Hm? *plugs ears, sings, “la la la”*

    3. Thank you and thank you and thank you for updating us.

    4. I think burghbaby is going to be twitching with all these !!!!’s lying around.

    5. Group hug! I’m in!

  23. Laura
    April 13, 2011 11:29 am

    This. Is. AWESOME.

    GO TEAM!

  24. Pa-pop
    April 13, 2011 11:59 am

    Excellent, inspiring work by so many people on so many levels.

  25. Cassie
    April 13, 2011 12:17 pm

    You never cease to amaze me. It doesn’t take much to have a big heart, but yours is HUGE to accomplish all of this.

    As a mother of three, thanks for making it happen.

  26. dan
    April 13, 2011 2:12 pm

    I apologize for asking a question in a insensitive way. GO MICROSOFT IKEA and everyone else who is all about the kids. I respect that. WAY TO GO ALL WHO DONATED AND HELPED GIVE THE KIDS A LITTLE REPRIEVE FROM THE TOUGH JOURNEY THEY HAVE. this is a great way to show kids someone cares!

  27. DG
    April 13, 2011 2:27 pm

    Too awesome. Everytime you do a MRFK post it makes me cry. Can’t wait for 3.0.

  28. Daunette
    April 13, 2011 5:20 pm

    Thank you for caring about the kids, Ginny. The games matter.

    Thank God for your devoted readers and the beautiful, generous people at Microsoft, MLF, and Ikea.

  29. Bram R
    April 13, 2011 6:40 pm

    Well [chuckle] I think all Dan was trying to say is that we all have a hard time imagining Ginny showing up to a random act of kindness and distributing “Las Velas Margaritas!” hats onto the heads of anyone, regardless of how amazing the act or whether or not she minds her partners doing so — and regardless of whether anyone cared or whether any amount of planning or thought actually went into it. It’s worth noticing that aside from these here blog posts, I can’t find any real use or distribution of MR4K looks-behind-the-scenes anywhere. Not even general reporting. It seems pretty intimate.

  30. empirechick
    April 13, 2011 6:53 pm

    People love schwag. Doesn’t matter if it’s adults or kids or senior citizens, doesn’t matter if it’s a cool hat or bottle opener or crappy stress ball, people love free stuff.

  31. Vivian formerly NYLuvsPitts
    April 13, 2011 8:17 pm

    You are wonderful. God bless you always.

  32. Natw
    April 13, 2011 8:23 pm

    Great story & you even got a shout out during the game – nice … :-)

  33. Pingback: Chachi Says 30: This Town | Sorgatron Media

  34. Sam's Dog
    April 13, 2011 10:57 pm

    First off, no relation to butchers,just hoping to capitalize if someone takes Mike Lange’s admonishment, just gotta say a huge thanks to Ginny for giving us the opportunity to contribute, I felt good when I first donated, but feel great now, even after a huge Pens win, to see the results of all the combined efforts. With the bad political landscape, looking for a loan for a tank of gas, etc. it’s humbling to see what caring people can accomplish. Having been through a bad stretch healthwise, I can attest to the power of knowing that someone is thinking of you, and I have to think these kids have to get a big boost from this, coming from people who they have never met! Ginny’s minions ROCK! Sorry to ramble….

  35. sleepgh
    April 14, 2011 8:42 am

    This is so great. My only hope is that my kid never has to use it.

  36. Butcher's Dog
    April 14, 2011 9:19 am

    @Sam’s Dog: welcome to the pound. We’ve got lots more room in here, but I don’t think Mike Lange mentions any other dogs except the two of us.

  37. Butcher's Dog
    April 14, 2011 9:20 am

    OOPS! I guess “get that dog off my lawn” probably counts!

  38. Jules
    April 14, 2011 9:21 am

    There are not enough words to express how much I love this project and what it has done for the kids in Children’s Hospital. GO PITTSBURGH/GINNY/MICROSOFT and everyone else who helped make this possible!

  39. Angie
    April 17, 2011 8:55 pm

    This is a GREAT cause and I would like my students to help out as part of their service project this year. Email me and we can go over any ideas you may have for my students to help with the donation.
    Thanks a million!

  40. tracy
    April 22, 2011 10:59 pm

    having an 8 year old nephew at childrens fighting a hard hard core battle with cancer (and he is winning)it is nice to know that when he is in there for days at a time his mind is not on the massive amounts of poisons being dumped in his body, but whether he can beat his dad at the newest game. from a auntie who thinks you all should wear angels wings. a big smack on the lips and a huge thank you

  41. Mermanda
    May 4, 2011 11:05 pm

    Again, I applaud you and all of your minions who made this possible. I was a volunteer at Children’s in Oakland and remember that an entire floor of kids had to share one gaming console. I also remember how much those kids loved doing crafts, so I am sure they are all quite giddy about the high-tech scrap booking materials you provided.

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