Year Seven. Here we go.

Growing up in a religious household (don’t stop reading, you  jags; I’m going somewhere with this!) with a minister father meant lots of bible instruction, and one thing me and my four sisters learned quite often was about the number seven.

Seven is the number of completion.

DO YOU HEAR THAT BEN ROETHLISBERGER?! COMPLETION. NOT INTERCEPTION.

Anyway. Every time I see the number seven I think …

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Year. Seven. For Make Room for Kids.

Do you  remember how this started? This whole thing where you and I work to raise money to put XBOXs in patient rooms at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh via the Make Room for Kids program at Mario Lemieux Foundation?

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(This little dude was the happiest you’ve ever seen a little dude … and he was in the transplant unit at the time.)

Let me refresh your memory. It started right here with this post. 

If I fail in my efforts on behalf of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh to win this prize, guess what? You’re not off the hook because then I’m going to hold a fundraiser to raise the $10,000 and guess who I’m coming to begging for three dollars? That’s right, YOU. And now that I’m not anonymous I can actually show up at your door with my hand out, my eyes in their best sad-puppy look, and I will weep and beg and gnash my teeth until you fork over your three hard-earned bucks.

We failed because the voting site failed, and we succeeded because you forked over your three dollars so I didn’t show up at your house with the fire of the sun in my eyes and the doom of a thousand demons in my scream. (I think I just wrote a heavy metal song. Gimme a pigeon and I’ll bite its head off.)

200 XBOXs later.

$125,000 later. Here we are. Here’s all the kids we helped:

  • Year one: Transplant Unit
  • Year two: Adolescent Medicine Unit
  • Year three: Cancer Unit
  • Year four: The Children’s Home and Lemieux Family Center
  • Year five: Cardiac Unit, cardiac step-down unit, and Cardiac Intensive Care Unit
  • Year six: Infusion/dialysis unit

That’s a lot of rooms, a lot of beds, a lot of smiles on sick kids’ faces.

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(That’s Haley. We follow each other on Twitter now because I am a hip young cool person.)

Year seven. Can there possibly be sick children left who we haven’t taken care of?

Yes. There are.

What about the kids with Cystic Fibrosis, a disease that will allow them to live to see 40 if they’re lucky?

Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and progressively limits the ability to breathe.

What about the kids suffering from Crohn’s and colitis, diseases they’ll fight their entire lives?

Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract.

That’s our unit this year. It’s called the GI unit and these are children who are regularly readmitted to the hospital for treatment and maintenance. Chronic. They will live with their conditions their whole lives. They know the hospital like the backs of their tiny hands, they’ve been there so much.

Children of all ages are cared for in this unit, but many are teens. Kidney and liver transplant children are also housed in this unit at times. The children in this unit stay for a week at a time, or months at a time, and they have to keep coming back due to their conditions when flare-ups happen.

Transplant kids can wait in this unit indefinitely until an organ becomes available. The kidney transplant children go from this unit down to dialysis and back.

This unit has three sleep-study beds. Children have a very hard time sitting still as all the wires and machines are hooked up to their bodies. Hospital staff has let us know that having in-room gaming would go a long way to helping the children stay still and occupied while being set up for their sleep studies.

Many of the children in this unit cannot move about freely to visit the general playroom area because it is vital they are near their restrooms due to their chronic GI conditions. For this reason, they would be ecstatic with in-room gaming.

Right now, this unit is sharing three XBOXs between 23 beds.

That. Won’t. Do.

Now, you’ll notice the thermometer is only set for $5,200. That’s much less than our usual goal of $10,000. Why?

Because Pittsburgh is awesome.

  • Regional Microsoft employees have donated a huge chunk of cash as they do every year, which was matched by the Microsoft corporation.
  • The Holiday Park Volunteer Fire Department donated over $4,200 to Make Room for Kids via their bingo night proceeds.
  • The ScareHouse Shake at Burgatory provides an influx of maintenance dollars.
  • And this year, Genre’s Kids with Cancer Fund will be covering our cost of maintenance of machines already installed in the oncology unit, and will also cover the cost of outfitting a planned expansion that will add more beds. We can’t let some of the cancer kids not have in-room gaming. They must all have this diversion from their awful disease.

That leaves you and I to make up the remainder needed. $5,200.

Here’s where your money is going:

  • Maintenance on all previous units installed. XBOXs break, controllers get lost, games get broken or lost, new games are released, new movies as well, and the children make new requests. We ask Child Life in each unit to let us know what they need, what the kids are begging for, and we get take their lists and we use your donations and we get those things for them.
  • This year we will be doing maintenance on the pediatric unit at Allegheny General Hospital as well, as you recall we did a little side project to outfit that unit one year. Time to give them new games and movies and to replace any broken equipment.
  • We will be putting an XBOX One with a Kinect in the play area of the GI unit, and we would like to upgrade their current small TV to a much much larger one so that the Cystic Fibrosis kids, who need activity to stay on top of their disease, can get some FUN exercise with plenty of room to move and a big TV to do it on. We will get them lots and lots of Kinect games for every age. We will make them thrilled to move their little bodies in defense of Cystic Fibrosis.
  • This unit has requested lots of scrapbooking equipment, as the children like to pass the time that way as well. As for units in the past, we will be providing a Cricut machine, cameras, photo printers, and all the fun fixings needed for scrapbooking.
  • Mounts and locks for the XBOXs are important
  • Games and movies GALORE for the GI unit, as well as extra controllers.
  • Portable DVD players. We will be getting half a dozen along with headphones. This is helpful for the children on the spectrum who need visuals to be up close.
  • Virtual reality goggles. These are particularly for children on the spectrum as well. This will be the first year we’ve supplied such a product for an install and I’m excited to see what we can find out there for the kids.
  • Every bed will have an XBOX installed and we will be providing Surface units for handheld fun and Skype-ing with friends and families, to keep the kids feeling connected to their outside life while hospitalized.
  • We will be installing all new XBOXs in the cardiac step down unit. This unit was relocated after our install a few years ago, so last year we refurbished the transplant XBOXs, gave the transplant unit all new XBOXs, and put the refurbished ones in the relocated cardiac step down. Now, we will replace every XBOX in the cardiac step down unit with a brand new machine.So basically, we are not only doing maintenance on every unit we’ve installed so far, we are installing new XBOXs in TWO ENTIRE UNITS.

It’s a lot. And thank goodness we have the partners we do at Microsoft, Genres Kids with Cancer Fund, Holiday Park VFD, and ScareHouse/Burgatory!

And you. Could you spare a few bucks for these sick kids? These Cystic Fibrosis kids? Crohn’s, colitis, transplant, heart, dialysis? Your dollars will touch six units in Children’s Hospital this year, and one at Allegheny General Hospital.

All donations go directly to the Mario Lemieux Foundation’s PayPal account. I don’t touch a penny of your money. It all goes to the sick kids.

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It only takes a minute of your time, if even that, to provide these wonderful children with a distraction from their very real, very scary diseases.

We install on April 21. The goal is $5,200. And if I know Pittsburgh, we will get there. Just click the button under the thermometer up there, and give anything you can. Every single dollar helps.

I love you all! Group hug.





8 Comments

  1. Heather
    February 12, 2016 8:43 am

    Do you accept donations of gently used Xboxes?



  2. Leslie from Dayton
    February 12, 2016 9:20 am

    Donated. I’ve dealt with ulcerative colitis since I was diagnosed at 19, and while I’m doing well currently (at fortymumble), nothing is guaranteed. It’s difficult at times for me, but I can’t imagine being a child with this disease. Ginny, what you’re doing will make such a difference for these kids. Thank you for opening your heart.



  3. michelle b
    February 12, 2016 9:41 am

    We have a gently used Wii that we’d also be happy to donate.



  4. Peg
    February 12, 2016 4:25 pm

    I’m in. Thanks for all you do!



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  6. jennifer
    February 13, 2016 9:52 pm

    Would you accept a donation box of gently used scrapbook supplies (stickers/paper/punches/etc.)?



  7. Heather C
    February 16, 2016 3:39 pm

    I’m not kidding, last week I had the sudden thought pop into my brain “I think it’s Make Room For Kids time”. And I checked your blog but it wasn’t here. Now it is!! Hooray! I look forward to this project every year because I think it’s amazing!!



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