Make Room for Kids 2016: A Super Good Day

13064752_10154116376228844_4954089604033332179_o(Photo courtesy of UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh)

(additional photos in this post provided by Microsoft and the Mario Lemieux Foundation)


By the quick math done by me and Mario Lemieux Foundation executive director Nancy Angus, Make Room for Kids has now installed Xboxes in an estimated 67% of in-patient rooms in Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh (plus outpatient oncology and infusion).

67% of the sick, hospitalized kids in our city have in-room gaming to help them pass the hours, to help them forget about their illnesses, to help them stop being “patients” and just be kids.

Your donations, the donations and dedication of Luke Sossi and his team at Microsoft, the donations of partners like the Holiday Park Volunteer Fire Department, the Scarehouse, Burgatory, and Genre’s Kids with Cancer Fund, and the entire staff at the Mario Lemieux Foundation have joined together for seven years now. Over 250 XBOXes. Thousands of games and movies. Computers. iPads. TVs. The list goes on.

Let me show you what your donations did yesterday at Children’s as we installed this year’s phase of Make Room for Kids in the GI/Pulmonary unit of the hospital, a unit that includes colitis, Crohn’s and cystic fibrosis patients.

It’s dark still, but Luke Sossi has SUVs packed and ready to head to Lawrenceville where he will meet up with Microsoft staff. I honestly don’t believe Luke sleeps the evening before MR4K install days. It’s like Christmas Eve for him, and he’s Santa.

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SUV contents are unloaded onto carts and rolled into the hospital lobby around 9:00 a.m.



Here’s Woy helping haul the new 50-inch TV we bought for the GI playroom:


Time for a quick photo of the Microsoft team who will be handling the day’s installation in two units, as we not only installed Xboxes in every room of the GI unit, but we upgraded every Xbox in the Cardiac Step-Down Unit with a new machine as that unit was using the first Xboxes we ever donated to the hospital back in 2010 and which we refurbished last year. It was time for new machines!


This pic I posted to my Instagram gives you a good look at everyone. Notice the carts stretch to behind Luke. LOTS of stuff!

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Elevator ride up! I look tired. Because of who I am as a person.

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We are here with the JOY! Big smiles as carts and carts of goodies are rolled into a conference room.


Luke and Nancy thank the crew for not only their donations, but their willingness to help out.



Just as I pressed my shutter button on this picture, Luke is saying, “Hey, crazy lady holding her camera up in the air.” I’ll wear that shoe.


Grab an Xbox, find a room, off you go!

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Isolation rooms mean we take extra precautions:


At one point, it looked like they even put the Root Sports cameraman to work.


My first stop was the playroom for the unit to check on the progress of installing the new 50-inch TV with an Xbox One and Kinect system. This is going to be great for the Cystic Fibrosis kids to get some exercise. Four patient rooms on the unit were also outfitted with Kinects.

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Once that’s up, play time, and they tested it out by pitting the Pens against the Rangers:

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I then headed to Tori’s room. She’s 16 and was pretty thrilled to hear we had the movie Megamind after she asked for it.




Mission accomplished.

How are we doing on time?

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Looking good.

Nancy pauses for an interview because she’s Nancy and that’s her job and not mine. Thank God.

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I headed to Case’s room. He’s 3. If you watched any of the news coverage, you’ll see initially Case was lying in his bed, not sure what to make of the people in his room. But then … up and at ’em with Angry Birds!




Here you can see he has prepared his bird launch.

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All the pigs on the first try even without full use of both hands!

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That was it. We left him like this …

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Mike and Meg Woycheck prepare to install an Xbox in a patient room. I would have a better picture but they literally ran away from me and my camera. The nerve.


Also donated by MR4K to this unit were five Surface Units preloaded with awesome games. These are especially good for children on the spectrum who need their gaming to be closer to their faces.




I forgot to take pictures of them, but we also gave this unit five portable DVD players, headphones for every room, scrapbooking machine and accessories, digital cameras with accessories, and SO MANY GAMES and movies! EA Sports also came through for a donation of their popular titles.

Here’s Nancy hunting down that Megamind movie she knew she had ordered.

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LOTS OF GAMES AND MOVIES! This box is for the GI unit alone. We have boxes for every other unit too!


After all 23 beds in the GI unit were outfitted and the kids playing their games or watching their movies, we headed down one floor to the Cardiac Step Down Unit to replace their old MR4K Xboxes with brand new ones.

That’s where we met Myles. Gosh, Myles.



13064752_10154116376228844_4954089604033332179_o(Photo courtesy of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh)

That picture is doing things to my heartfeels. Can you also feel it?

In addition to all that, every unit from past installs received new controllers, and dozens of new games and movies that were released since our last install. That includes the oncology kids, transplant kids, cardiac ICU kids, and more! 

And we aren’t completely done with this year, because before fall, the oncology unit will have undergone an expansion to add six more inpatient beds for the cancer kids and thanks to Genre’s Kids with Cancer Fund, we already have the Xboxes to install once the construction is complete. I’ll keep you updated on when we get back in there to do that.

We also have updated games and movies to still deliver to the pediatric unit of AGH, which is also getting a snazzy rolling cart to store games in, and updated games and movies to send over to the Children’s Home and Lemieux Family Center.


It’s a lot, but we did it with your help.


I know we can get that number to 100% and make sure every kid who finds themselves admitted to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh will have in-room gaming to distract them, entertain them, and comfort them.

I can’t thank you enough for all your donations, your sharing, your generosity, you willingness to find this project worthy of your hard-earned dollars. You are what makes Pittsburgh great and you are who is putting these smiles on these sick kids’ faces.

I hope you’ll join us next year as we press on toward that 100 percent.

Hug your kids and now hug me. Group hug!


    April 22, 2016 12:26 pm

    What an awesome thing to do. God Bless all of you involved in making this accomplishment. Simply wonderful.

  2. Donna Moresea
    April 22, 2016 8:45 pm

    An awesome job by an awesome group of people.