Over the past couple years, I have heard mention of a charity called Starlight Children’s Foundation. I have to admit that even after fundraisers that Coffee With Kenobi as well as other podcasts had done for them, and seeing their setup at Celebration Orlando last year before I broke my hand, I knew very little about them. That is, until last summer.
This past summer, a tweet from one of the most talented voice actors out there came across my feed. Stephen Stanton was holding a giveaway which included autographs and a phone call from in all to promote awareness of Starlight and their mission to #HelpKids. This peaked my interest quite a bit, not only for the prizes, but the sheer amount of time he was putting into getting the word out about them. So I did my research and became quite impressed with the work that Starlight does. Not long afterwards, I was blessed to become one of the lucky winners and spent a good chunk of one night in conversation with Mr. Stanton. I remember after hanging up how impressed I was with how genuine his passion about Starlight’s mission was. So I made it a point from then on to constantly retweet his posts referring to Starlight.
Fast forward to October of last year. My baby girl Averie had the first of 2 surgeries to fix her speech. Long story short, she suffers from a chromosomal disorder called DiGeorge’s Syndrome. This disorder has the potential to affect several body systems develop poorly. In her case, Averie suffers from bilateral kidney reflux and a deformity in her pharyngeal flap which disrupted her speech. Doctors described it as a form of cleft palate.
The surgery in October was to remove her tonsils and adenoids so that the second surgery to repair and build up the flap would be easier to do. As any concerned parent during a child’s surgery, I tweeted updates so my friends and family could continue to send their thoughts and prayers. Among the people who were reaching out to me during this time, was Starlight’s own social media team.
A few days after the first surgery, as life was calming down, the social media team from Starlight reached out to me again. This time, it was to do what they do best, #HelpKids. For Averie’s impending second surgery, Starlight along with their partners Star Wars: Force for Change sent Averie one of their awesome R2-D2 Brave gowns along with a care package with some goodies to keep her busy during her extended recovery. Saying I was blown away would be an understatement. The Brave gown truly made a difference in Averie’s hospital stay.
How can a gown make that much of a difference in a child’s hospital stay? I’m glad you asked. Besides the obvious comfort factor (which they are a lot more comfortable than the standard hospital gown for sure), what makes the difference is the gown itself and what it means to the child. In Averie’s case, R2-D2 was an awesome point of conversation between her and the hospital staff. They talked about R2-D2, about Star Wars, and their favorite characters. This broke the ice making her more comfortable with the staff. Matter of fact, when they had to put her IV in, one of the nurses afterwards brought her a Rey doll for being so brave.
When it came time for the surgery, and the nurse was wheeling Averie away from my wife and I, I could see her squeezing her pink pig as tight as she could as she started to cry. Nothing is more gut wrenching for a parent than to have a child wheeled away from you crying cause she is scared and there being nothing you can do about it. I stood there, almost in tears myself when I heard the nurse talking to her as they walked away. “It’s ok.” He said. “You know, R2-D2 is my favorite.” By the time they rounded the corner and the doors closed, she wasn’t crying and they were talking about R2-D2 and her new Rey doll.
Needless to say, the second surgery which happened in December was a success and Averie was released from the hospital earlier than expected. She had her followup appointment was last week and the doctors are extremely pleased with her recovery. Her speech has improved dramatically and with future therapy she will continue to see improvement.
This is just one of the stories that the people at Starlight can share. They are touching kids around the country, making their days a little brighter. Matter of fact, the hospital where Averie had her surgery received 2 of the Starlight gaming stations along with a supply of Brave gowns while she was there.
Thank you Starlight Children’s Foundation.
Thank you Star Wars: Force for Change.
Thank you both for making my little girl’s fears go way, making her stay in the hospital easier for her and her parents.
Thank you, Stephen Stanton, for your passionate support of Starlight which pushed me to discover more about this organization and their mission.
The story doesn’t end here. There are more kids out there who need the type of sunshine in their lives that was provided for my baby. You can help provide that sunshine by donating to Starlight Children’s Foundation here. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
Also checkout each of their blogs about Averie’s experience with the Brave gown:
May the Force be with you all!
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Coffee With Kenobi, its hosts, respective writers, or its affiliates.Powered by Sidelines