Category Archives: Make Room for Kids
Without the pizza place.
Yesterday I took my kids to the Science Center and then on to Las Velas for dinner. While sitting near the windows above Market Square, my six-year-old daughter looked down to the sidewalk below and saw two pigeons pecking at probable puke.
Me: “Look at those pigeons! They’re fat as cats!”
Her: “Mom. [folds her hands in the begging gesture] Can I PLEEEEEEEZE have a pet pigeon? Please? [doe eyes]“
Satan in Hell: [falls down laughing]
For weeks now, every time she sees a pigeon, my daughter insists she’d like one for a pet. A pigeon.
I say “kick it!” and she hears “love it!”
She yearns for a pet parrot, but I’ve told her no in the most honest way I could … “No. They poop, they’re loud, and they live forever.”
That’s right. I don’t permit non-canine pets in my house that I’ll still have to take care of after my children go to college. This is why I said no to the bearded dragon. Because with my luck, it would be as big as a baby alligator the day I sent my boy off to school. I’m hopeful Dennis the tarantula’s funeral will happen sometime before 2021.
Also, have you ever seen a tarantula’s molt?
Now you have. You’re so very welcome.
Since I’ve told her she can’t have a parrot, she thinks a pigeon is the next best thing. That’s like thinking, “Well, if I can’t have a steak, I’ll have tuberculosis.”
I think I’ve come up with a way to put the whole matter to rest. I told her she can have a pet pigeon if she can catch one.
This oughta be good.
Also yesterday at Las Velas, my son and I were talking about Minecraft because that’s what ten-year-old boys like to talk about. He was explaining to me a problem he was having, but that he found a forum that helped him solve it.
Him: “And some guy I know commented on that forum too. Guess who it was!”
Me: [spews margarita all over the place]
Guess I should have that “not everything on the Internet is true” talk with him.
3. An appeal
The Make Room for Kids Amazon wish list is up! You’ll notice this list is heavy in DVD movies and that’s because The Children’s Home doesn’t have many at all. In fact, most of their movies are on VHS. Titles start at less than $5.
Also on the list, you’ll see we’re asking for donations of XBOX Live points, as this is how we’ll be purchasing the games for The Children’s Home, rather than using physical disk copies. We’d appreciate if you could help us out with that.
And finally, you’ll see a few actual hard copies of XBOX games on the list. Those are games requested by the kids at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh who are patients in the units we’ve outfitted in years past. It’s important that we maintain an updated supply of games to keep the kids there occupied. The extra controllers are for Children’s Hospital too.
Shipping defaults to go directly to The Lemieux Foundation.
If you haven’t chipped in yet — maybe PayPal isn’t your thing — this is a great way to do it. Takes just a few minutes of your time and scores you major good karma points. Plus, Mario will walk into the office, see all the piles of boxes of stuff you donated and he’ll be all [THUMBS UP!].
FOR OUR SICK KIDS, you guys!
If you donate, I promise to never post another picture of a tarantula molt again.
What’s it going to take to get you to donate to this year’s Make Room for Kids effort to bring distractions and gaming to the patients and families at The Children’s Home and Lemieux Family Center?
Do you need to see a cat that will haunt your nightmares until the day you die?
We got that!
Do you need to see a baby monkey riding backwards on a little pig?
We got that!
Mayor Straight G. Lukey Cube with a giant light bulb?
My minister father wearing a construction hat and doing the YMCA dance at my sister’s wedding? GOT THAT.
He really partied hard every time he managed to marry one of us five girls off to unsuspecting men who were in for a lifetime of whatever it is my sisters and I dish out on a daily basis.
Me as a teenaged cheerleader for the local church group?
Let me explain what’s going on here. Insanity is going on here.
This is a very dangerous, utterly precarious, bold church cheerleading pyramid that could falter and tumble to the ground at any moment, injuring all of us and possibly displacing our carefully Aqua-netted mall bangs. I can’t believe that we’re not breaking any rules on what is allowable at sanctioned church cheerleading events. I mean, WHERE ARE THE SPOTTERS?! I am in there, straining under half of the enormous burden of the 65-pound Pens Fan. My glasses are askew. My hair drooping. My sparkle spirit flagging. This pyramid’s difficulty … its complexity … is only rivaled by this one’s:
As you can see, this pyramid is in such danger of falling at any moment that two strategically-placed cheerleaders must prop it up like two-by-fours holding up a rickety porch in the backwoods of West By God Virginia.
Without those feet holding my butt up, I would surely drop the third of Princess Aurora’s 65 pounds I’m holding up.
I still remember some of the cheers we cheered.
“S-P-I-R-I-T! What’s that spell?! SPIRIT!” And not the Holy Spirit. Just spirit. We wanted our team to have SPIRIT. Gasp! Or maybe we WERE cheering about the Holy Spirit and they weren’t telling us. Sneaky. I hope the Holy Spirit appreciated our cheering.
“Be! Aggressive! B-E agressive! B-E-A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E!” which was our most violent church spelling cheer.
Surprisingly, we didn’t have one single cheer that went like this … ”GoooooOOOOOOO, JESUS!”
What’s it going to take to get you to click the donate button? Tell me and I’ll do it. We’re almost halfway there in 24 hours, and if we all do our part, donate a bit, spread the word, we’ll reach our goal faster than you can spell dork.
“D-O-R-K! What’s that spell?! DORK! Who’s a dork?! GINNY! When’s she a dork?! ALWAYS!”
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!
A cool thing happened on the way to October for Make Room for Kids.
If you need to be reminded, Make Room for Kids is the initiative at the Mario Lemieux Foundation that you and I started which provides gaming to sick children in our city. So far we have outfitted the transplant unit, the cancer unit, and the frequent flyers unit at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and the entire pediatric unit at Allegheny General Hospital. And in 2013, we’re going to announce the next phase which is going to serve some of the city’s sickest kids.
You? Rock. [rocker kick] Ow. I’m old.
The Scarehouse (oooooeeeeeeoooo) joined up with the folks at Burgatory (yummmmmummmmmuuumm) to offer a new alcoholic (though non-alcoholic is an option LOL) limited-time-only ice cream shake called The Scarehouse Shake, with proceeds from the sale of the shake going to Make Room for Kids!
For one month I am asking you to eat burgers and fries and drink shakes FOR SICK KIDS. The only thing that could be better is if I asked you to eat carrot cake every day for a month for sick kids.
I’ll do anything for sick kids and I’ll do anything for a milkshake, so this really works out well for me and my fat ass. Is there a song called “My Ass Jiggle Brings All the Boys to the Yard” because if so, it’s my new anthem, ringtone, and possibly funeral processional dirge.
Here’s a little video featuring the awesome Laura Kelly in which she learns what’s in the shake and let me tell you what’s in the shake because I have already tried it and died and went to heaven where my ass jiggle was welcomed with open arms: ice cream, chocolate vodka, crack cocaine, unicorn breath, red velvet cake and more. All for sick kids in our city.
Don’t you just want to sink your teeth into that juicy eyeball? Me too! And to think that by drinking a delicious shake you’re funneling money to our city’s sick kids via the Mario Lemieux Foundation.
There are two locations you can get this shake: The Waterworks location, which is where we filmed that video at buttcrack of dawn a.m. or the newly opened Robinson location at The Pointe.
They are available beginning tomorrow until the end of October, so please, for the kids, get a Scarehouse Shake at Burgatory.
Tell them PittGirl sent you and they’ll be all, “PittGirl?! Didn’t that bitch die?”
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.