Update: I feel like I won the Oscar and forgot to thank the director. WOY! I forgot to thank Mike Woycheck in this post. Woy wasn’t able to be there today due to prior commitments, but he was still very much a part of this effort and was instrumental in helping with the technical aspects of the fund raising. God bless Woy!
Today was Make Room for Kids 3.0 at Children’s Hospital and I wanted to share the day with you, since it was your donations that helped make it all possible for our city’s sick kids.
I arrived at 7:45 a.m. along with some of the Microsoft crew to await Luke Sossi’s arrival with the XBOXes as the Mario Lemieux Foundation was already on site with the other goodies such as the Cricut machine, cameras, games, movies and more.
Here comes Luke making raise the roof hand gestures while pulling in. You can’t see the hand gestures here, but they were very legit. The roof was definitely raised.
Then everyone pitches in to unload the goodies onto carts to be rolled to the elevator bay:
Heading to the elevators:
Everything is then unloaded in the teen lounge where the hospital has treated us with bagels, muffins, and coffee. Score!
Luke gathers up the troops and gives instructions. We will first start with the 8-bed infusion outpatient room so that we can be done before the kids start showing up for their oftentimes day-long treatments.
The inspiration for Make Room for Kids, Genre Baker and his mother arrive and Luke is sure to introduce him to the group. Genre is very nearly done with his cancer treatments. He has many friends on the floor.
In the infusion room where Genre has endured MANY a treatment, Luke tells him he’ll be installing the first unit and instructs him on how to do it:
Between Microsoft and Make Room for Kids donations, we have purchased a veritable crap-ton of XBOX Live points for the infusion beds so that the kids can choose different games, movies, radio, etc. Anything they want, they have it right at their fingertips while they’re being treated.
An infusion bed awaits its install and a patient to claim the hat and lanyard donated by Microsoft:
Getting to work:
Genre is cool in front of the camera. He should give me lessons:
With the infusion beds all installed and ready for the first patients of the day to arrive, we head back to the teen lounge to prepare to hit the inpatient rooms. There are almost two dozen installs still to be done. I get to work unpacking all of the games and movies. We also had an entire box of Kinect games that would be divided amongst the three Kinects installed in the common play areas.
This day marked the 100th XBOX donated by the local Microsoft employees, so they were sure it was a special edition white XBOX with a white Kinect:
Nancy Angus of the Mario Lemieux Foundation talks to WTAE. I consider video-bombing, but wisely decide against it.
Two years ago:
What the heck are they feeding that boy!?
Genre gets busy playing Kinect with a patient:
This kid was filled so much personality. He also claims he has never heard of Mario Lemieux. We gave him a quick lesson and told him how Mario used to have cancer.
“He beat it?” he asked Nancy Angus.
“He beat it and he has been cancer free for 20 years,” she said.
Genre couldn’t go into any isolation rooms, but he was able to visit a few other rooms. Here he is handing out a game to a patient:
This patient got right to work:
I checked back in on the previous patient a while later and found him still playing:
Daniel is 9 and has been in the hospital since before Genre was diagnosed three years ago. He is fighting his SECOND fight with leukemia. His mother explained to me that there are two types of leukemia and he beat one type and then was diagnosed with the second type. He recently finished his second bone marrow transplant. He has a Facebook page that was started in January when he became gravely ill. Since then, he’s doing much better and has received over 1,000 cards from around the world. 300 in one day alone! They are all hanging in his room. I didn’t go in to meet Daniel because he was an “isolation” patient. His mother told me the video games make a huge difference to him.
A Cricut scrapbooking machine was requested and WISH GRANTED, along with lots of cool cartridges for it and tools that I have no idea what they’re for. We were just buying what we thought they would need. Still don’t know what a Cricut Spatula is, but we bought them two, as well as a bunch of photo paper, a photo printer and two digital cameras with cases and extra memory cards:
Headphones! Eight will go to the outpatient infusion beds and the remainder will be given to the inpatient beds:
And that’s not all. We also asked our previously installed units, the transplant unit and the adolescent medicine unit if they had any items they wished for, and we were able to bring them some new games they requested as well as some extra controllers to replace lost ones:
Whew. An incredible day, and there’s still more to do. We still need to install the XBOXs at Allegheny General Hospital’s pediatric unit and deliver their games and movies. We will get to that in the coming months.
In addition, in July, thanks to the Ansys portion of donation made in Matt Conover’s memory, each bed in Children’s Hospital’s cancer unit will be receiving an iPad.
More on those things in the future. For now, a huge thanks to our local Microsoft team for completely dedicating themselves to this project and for donating more than 100 XBOXs over the last three years. And a huge thanks to you for your donations that not only bought all of the things I showed you here, but also various XBOX and Kinect mounts, cables, security locks, and much more.
And I personally have to thank the Mario Lemieux Foundation. There is just so much that goes on behind the scenes to make today happen, and I’m thankful they’re here to handle that because they’re so good at it. If it was in my hands, it would be pure chaos.
Today I was asked why Make Room for Kids is so important to me and I said, “Because it’s important to the kids. It’s an escape. They’re going through things — emotionally and physically — that not even some adults could handle, and they’re doing it like champs. I’m not a doctor, so I can’t make them feel better with medicine, but I can do this. We can give them an escape from being sick.”
So thank you for finding this program important too, and having my back so that together we can give them that chance to escape, even if just for a few hours.