Category Archives: Make Room for Kids

A really really really good day

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Last Friday at 9:00 a.m., Make Room for Kids, an initiative of the Mario Lemieux Foundation supported by Microsoft and ALL OF YOU, arrived at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh with the goal to provide a multimedia makeover for the CICU unit, the Cardiac Step Down unit, and the Trauma/Ortho unit. In addition, we delivered boxes of new games, movies, and other goodies to every unit we overhauled in years past … transplant, adolescent medicine, and oncology. Our most ambitious install day ever.

The morning kicked off when the Mario Lemieux Foundation and Microsoft arrived with SUVs full of good stuff for the kids.

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That’s a lot of loot!

Me and MLF’s Nancy Angus being adorable and staying out of the way adorably. Adorable.

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Briefing by Microsoft’s Luke Sossi, the planning and logistics mastermind who ensures the operation runs smoothly and who also ran the fundraising campaign at Microsoft, encouraging employees to donate to the program:

IMG_0699Child Life Specialist Beth Moneck talks about how important the gaming will be to the patients and also prepares the installers for what they might encounter in the CICU rooms:

IMG_0707Nancy Angus thanks everyone for their time and donations to the program. There in the background is Frank. He’s the person at the hospital responsible for making sure each room is ready for an XBOX install — a process that starts way back in the fall:

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And they’re off! Three floors to hit, 4, 6, and 8.

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The first XBOX is installed in the waiting area of the CICU (Cardiac Intensive Care Unit) as the families and siblings of patients often have long waits here considering surgeries can happen at any time in the CICU rooms.

IMG_0714All done!

IMG_0721The CICU is just … well … heartbreaking. You can’t fathom what these kids and their families are suffering through, and your donations are going a long way to make their stay a little bit better.

Hannah is 11 and if her room is any indication, she loves pink and black.  She’s here for surgeries while awaiting a heart transplant. As the install was taking place, she sat on her bed holding a copy of Plants versus Zombies, which just happened to be the game she was handed while they installed her XBOX. She was quiet and I said, “Did you want a different game to play maybe?”

She shyly nodded her head as if she felt badly for asking and I’m thinking, “Girl. You’re 11. You’re waiting for a new heart. You can have anything you damn well want. BRB.”

So we hooked her up with Angry Birds and this was her reaction:

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Here’s another young patient who was happy to get started with the new XBOX in her room:

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Room by room. 38 XBOXes. High-risk rooms meant taking important precautions:

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Other rooms didn’t require such precautions:

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IMG_0731Here’s the whole install team:

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Each child received an XBOX installed in their room, a controller, a game to get started with, a Microsoft hat, lanyard, and keychain with a tiny controller replica on it:

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And that’s not all! We also delivered, thanks to your donations:

– Over 100 XBOX games

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– Over 150 movies. I insisted that every unit received a copy of Frozen because DO YOU WANT TO BUILD A SNOWMAN IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A SNOWMAN OKAY BYEEeee. Shut up.

IMG_0767– Tons of scrapbooking stuff, because as I’ve mentioned in the past, scrapbooking is not only a great distraction, but a good way for kids to address their fears. We included cameras, photo printers, memory cards, tons of cool papers, and lots more.

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– Eight Surface units! We gave four to the CICU/Cardiac Step Down unit and two to the transplant unit and two to the adolescent medicine unit. Each was delivered with a keyboard and protective sleeve. Good for gaming and surfing the web.

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IMG_0740– And check out these sweet Tomb Raider-themed controllers. Microsoft brought 38 of these so that the units have some extras to allow patients to play with family members or others:

IMG_0751– Your donations allowed us to give each unit from previous years a box full of goodies as well as a few extra controllers. They received new games, new movies, and more. The transplant unit was provided with two new LeapPads as well as LeapPad games for their younger patients. And they all got Frozen. LET IT GOOOO. LET IT GOOO-OOOOO! Shut up.

– This install brings us to over 150 XBOX units installed and over $125,000 in total donations to Make Room for Kids since its inception. We have outfitted at Children’s Hospital, the transplant unit, the adolescent medicine/”Frequent Fliers” unit, the oncology unit, the oncology transfusion unit, the CICU, the Cardiac Step Down unit, the trauma/ortho unit, as well as the pediatric unit at Allegheny General, and the entirety of The Children’s Home. Wow.

Near the end of the morning, as things were wrapping up, Beth from Child Life told us that one patient who had received the XBOX earlier in the morning had been getting her clothing changed and would not put down the controller to stop playing her game. She just held on and kept her eyes on the TV while her clothing was swapped.

That’s the goal. Distraction. Don’t worry. Just play. 

It was so good to hear from Child Life at each unit about how the gaming has helped them and their patients over the last few years. I promise you, it is making a difference for these kids. So I can’t thank you enough for donating each year to help us make that happen for them.

I also must give mad love and props to ROOT Sports for featuring the install during the Pens pre-game show yesterday, to the Post-Gazette for featuring it on the front page of Saturday’s paper, and to Mike Young at EA Sports for hooking the kids up with some awesome games like NHL 14 and Madden 25.

It was a fantastic day and a huge success thanks to Microsoft, the Mario Lemieux Foundation, and you.

Group hug!





A little more help?

First, you’ll notice the Make Room for Kids thermometer is gone and the reason for that is I took it down ALL BY MYSELF using HTML and widgets and microtechythingamabobiggities and I didn’t break anything.

Hashtag Jedi knight.

Second, yesterday I spent a few hours at the Mario Lemieux Foundation offices in an effort to stalk Mario and steal stuff get the shopping done for this year’s Make Room for Kids phase.

We shopped and shopped and bought and made Amazon Prime smoke a little. On and on we went until we totaled it all up and the adding machine displayed ,”JESUS, TAKE THE WHEEL!”

The issue is that we like to do maintenance. That is we go to the cancer kids and the transplant kids and the other units we’ve already outfitted and we say, “How you doin’? What do you need?”

And they responded. They asked for some new games, because keep in mind the transplant kids are using games that are now four years old. That’s  ARCHAIC in technology years. The cancer kids asked for more games that girls would like to play. The adolescent medicine unit was hoping for some specific Lego games and some extra controllers.

We did our best to fulfill all technology requests from every unit, and we did a pretty good job. But we need a few more things.

– Movies. I already personally purchased a box of movies for the units, but we need lots more and I’m hoping you’ll buy one or two. They will be divided between every unit, because I’d like to get some newer movies for the cancer, transplant, and frequent flier kids too.

– The transplant kids requested a Leap Pad 2 for the younger transplant patients. We took care of that. But we need some games for these kiddos to play, so I’ve put those on the Wish List too.

Maybe you couldn’t donate before. Maybe you hate PayPal but worship at the altar of Amazon Prime. If you want to pitch in, just click here to be taken to the Wish List. Your purchases from the Wish List will be shipped directly to the Mario Lemieux Foundation. They’ll unpack ‘em, kiss ‘em, virtually hug you, and then hand them off to the kiddos on install day in April.

Thanks, guys! I can always count on you to help us help our city’s sick kids.

Group hug.





One last push …

… I suddenly had childbirth PTSD.

Shudder. That shit is not fun. (And some of you moms are all, “LITERALLY!”)

The Internet is hard these days.

It’s loud. It’s crowded. Everyone and every brand is using their voice and sometimes it is hard to be heard from within that noise.

You’ve got Facebook just LITTERED with ridiculous game requests all “PLEASE HELP ME EARN MORE FEED FOR MY HEADLESS CHICKENS SO THEY CAN GROW HEADS ALTHOUGH I’M NOT REALLY SURE HOW MY HEADLESS CHICKEN IS GOING TO EAT THE FEED WITHOUT A HEAD.”

Facebook is full of hoax picture after hoax picture immediately considered as truth, stolen recipes, relentless sales pitches, political bickering, and humans trying to craft the perfect online life full of travel, money, perfect children, perfect jobs, and perfect “taken from an attractive above angle” selfie, while in reality, their crazy life and 1.5 chins are just as normal as yours.

Twitter? Well Twitter is lots of selling, promoting, link baiting, angry customer service tweets, and too much shouting and not too much listening.

Social media these days sometimes feels like you’re standing in a room full of people screaming “GET YER [FILL IN THE BLANK HERE]! [FILL IN THE BLANK] HERE! FRESH [FILL IN THE BLANK HERE]! ONLY NINETEEN NINETY FIVE PLUS TAX!” And in the center of that room, you’re whispering, “Hey, look. I have a cool thing here and it’s something you might actually care about?”

I realize how very “GET OFF MY VIRTUAL LAWN” that sounds and I will wear that orthopedic shoe in a sexy flesh color.

But I’m hoping that from within that noise, you might hear me now and help me. We are SO close to raising $10,000 for Make Room for Kids. $10,000 that will allow us, through the Mario Lemieux Foundation’s Austin’s Playroom Project and through a partnership with the regional Microsoft office, to provide a complete multimedia overhaul to THREE units within Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

We’re going to help the scoliosis kids who are undergoing painful, bed-confining spinal fusions.

Imagine for a second that someone took a flagpole, covered it in spikes, used a blow torch to rip open your back, slammed the spike-covered pole into your back, then used rusty fishing hooks to sew you back together. That’s what spinal fusion feels like.”

We’re going to help the  kids who are often required to remain mostly motionless for days in a row.

We’re going to help the kids who are using artificial hearts while they await a new heart that will give them their lives back.

We’re going to help every single heart patient that enters the doors of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

We’re going to make sure they no longer have to wait for the shared Wii to be available to them to provide some distractions from the fact that their friends are outside those windows living their lives and growing and learning and soaking up the sun while they lay there ordered not to move.

We’re going to make it better for them, but only if you pitch in the cost of your morning latte. Can you do that for them? I promise you’ll be rewarded in some fashion, because that’s what the Karma Boomerang does. It’s the only thing on the Karma Boomerang’s resume. “Reward and punish reciprocally.” That’s it. And maybe, “Excellent Microsoft Office skills.” I don’t know.

Please hear my whisper and donate via the button under the thermometer. All funds go directly to The Mario Lemieux Foundation. We’ll use that money to outfit these units and to upgrade the games of the units we’ve already outfitted over the years. The Cancer kids are just begging for some new Madden. Let’s get it to them.

I’m going to embed this video and I ONLY WANT YOU TO WATCH FROM 1:06 until the Child Life Specialist is done talking. Then you click pause and stop watching. Because otherwise, it sounds like I’m bragging and I’m not trying to do that, otherwise I would have posted this video way back in November.

I just want you to hear directly from CHP about this program.

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Group hug! I love you all.

 





Then the porkers took flight.

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Yesterday was … weird.

I’ve been busting my adorable jiggly ass to get this $10,000 raised for the kids at Children’s Hospital, so I’m constantly tweeting and Facebooking and social-media-ing like a 15-year-old Belieber.

Also, the word Belieber makes me want to kill things.

Hide your pigeons, Mike Tyson.

Anyway, you know that instead of writing “Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?” for years now I’ve written, “Anyone? Anyone? Zober?” because I like to pick on the Dread Lord Zober because I do not fear his mystical powers of darkness and destruction. Much.

So last night, this happened.

And I was flabbergasted. The Dread Lord … giving his cash to the sick kids.

But would Lukey follow suit?

Brace yourselves:

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I died so hard I couldn’t even capitalize the i in “i just died.”

Either we’ve stumbled into some weird alternate universe, or this snow really is making everyone batshit crazy.

The Dread Lord, the wizard of doom, donated. Luke Ravenstahl, my sworn enemy — the Joker to my Batman, the Swiper to my Dora, the Newman to my Seinfeld, is donating. At this point, I wouldn’t  be surprised if a pigeon tried to Paypal me some stale french fries or something.

Maybe you too want to throw a few bucks into the pot so we can give these suffering kids a bit of fun and diversion to help along their healing process?

Click the “Donate” button to donate directly into the Mario Lemieux Foundation account. Every little bit helps!

I love you guys.

 





Oh. Em. Gee.

This just happened.

The Dread Lord.

The Ruler of Darkness.

The Destroyer of People.

Donated to Make Room for Kids.

He DOES have a heart!

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Your move, Lukey.

Your move too, readers.

For sick kids.