Do we take for granted that when we walk in the door, our children and our nieces and nephews will be able to run to us in greeting? They’ll hear the key turn and our toddlers will toddle and our babies will crawl. Our children will bounce toward us on sure legs and say excited, mostly comprehensible things to us. There is no frustration or sadness on our part or on their part. There is just joy. Do you take that for granted? I know I took it for granted until I visited The Children’s Home — the next beneficiary of the Make Room for Kids fundraising efforts.
Make Room for Kids’ goal has always been to bring smiles and distractions to Pittsburgh’s sickest kids — those fighting the hardest, longest, most grueling fights. The Mario Lemieux Foundation has worked hard to identify just who those kids are that most need what it is we offer via Make Room for Kids. For over three years now, we’ve provided hospitalized children with countless games, over 100 XBOXes, dozens of iPads, laptops, printers, TVs, movies and more — all designed to make their journey a little less stressful. A smile wedged here and there between the fears and tears. And unless you yourself have fought the same battle, you have no idea what the children are going through. None.
The Children’s Home of Pittsburgh has treated more than 15,000 children and their families since 1893. They have a pediatric speciality hospital, a family center where families of sick children can stay together and live while they undergo treatment in their hospital. They have Child’s Way, a day care for very medically fragile children who attend every day while their parents go to work and school. The Children’s Home also has an adoption program, and more.
Right now, there are 24 families sharing 2 laptops. That won’t do.
Right now, there is a VCR with a CRT television for the children to watch movies on. That won’t do.
Right now, there is one Wii for all the patients to share. That won’t do.
Right now, there are children fighting cancer, children waiting for or adjusting to new organs, children with tumors or damaged hearts, children with new prosthetics, children with all manner of illnesses being cared for in The Children’s Home while their care and treatments are taught to their parents in a home-like setting which is a critical step toward going home.
Right now, families with children with special needs rely on Child’s Way, a daycare inside the home that cares for over 50 children. It was in Child’s Way, as we listened to the staff explain to us their needs, that it became difficult for me to see what I was seeing. So many beautiful children with so many hard battles in front of them for the entire rest of their lives. Legs that don’t work. Mouths that don’t speak. Brains that faltered somewhere, but left in their wake some beautiful minds.
It was in that room that a boy of about nine dragged himself across the floor to greet us. His legs useless to him, but his arms strong and determined. In his own way, he voiced his approval that we were there and gave us each a smile that you couldn’t help but return. The center was filled with children just like him. Wonderful spirits there to learn and grow despite the hand life dealt them. We want to give them some technology that will help them in that learning and growing.
As the fundraising campaign goes on, I’ll talk to you more and more about the specific help The Children’s Home is offering to our city’s sick kids, many of whom are also patients at Children’s Hospital. I’ll talk to you about the kinds of treatments they receive. I’ll talk to you about the fact that the Children’s Home has children’s hospice — Two words that should just never appear next to each other. And I’ll do my best to convince you to throw a few dollars in the pot so that come April, we can see some beautiful smiles when we descend on the home with trunks full of technology.
We’re looking to raise $6,500 right now. The wonderful employees of the local Microsoft office have already donated enough from their paychecks to fund every XBOX we need, and some Surface tablets too! That leaves us with purchasing all of the games, TVs, computers, movies and more. In addition, we’ll use any extra funds to perform maintenance on the units we’ve already outfitted over the past three years, and to provide them with new games as well.
Again, I’ll keep updating you as we move forward and I suspect this fundraising campaign will take a bit longer this year due to the fact that I haven’t been posting here as often as I used to, and that results in a lower readership.
But I promise your money is going right where we say it is, and I promise you that we’ve found the kids who need these distractions the most.
The donate button is live and as usual, all funds go directly to the Mario Lemieux Foundation. Please support it if you can!