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Early Halloween bash helps kids celebrate in the hospital

Spirit Halloween and Spirit of Children bring Halloween to Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU

An adult and teen smile with goofy masks. The teen is sitting in a wheelchair. Families and patients at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU enjoy an early Halloween party. (Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU)

By Kate Marino

Halloween is all about dressing up and having fun – something kids often miss out on when they’re in the hospital. Thanks to the national costume store Spirit Halloween’s charitable foundation, Spirit of Children, that isn’t the case at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR).

Patients from infants to teens were treated to a special Halloween party on Oct. 19, complete with plenty of costumes to choose from, pumpkins to paint and goodie bags to take back to their rooms.

Little boy picks out a costume of a clown with a guardian.

Children were able to choose from dozens of Halloween costumes at the Halloween bash at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. (Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU)

Trinity, who chose an all-star cheerleader, was one of the kids who had a blast with this change of pace after four weeks in the hospital. Her grandmother, Melinda, says the four-year-old has become more confident during her time at CHoR with the support of her care team and that this party was a treat.

“We've been here a month, and this is the best day she’s had. Today she's back to her sassy self,” said Melinda, with agreement from Trinity’s mom, Angel. “To see her like this is what I've been waiting for. She's had a huge smile on her face. By being here, she has been able to get out of her room and have a break and have some fun.”

Myla also appreciated the opportunity to paint a mask and enjoy some respite from her medical care.“

Art is a great distraction from stress,” said her mom, Angela. “It’s hard to be in a hospital for anyone, but especially children since the routine is disrupted. For kids, regardless of age, this kind of escape from all of that to create and paint is an opportunity to destress and decompress and feel like we’re at an art fair instead of in the hospital.”

A little girl paints a pumpkin.

Children were able to paint pumpkins and pick out their own costumes from Spirit Halloween at the party. (Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU)

Supporting child life and making the hospital less scary all year long

On top of the hard work and materials provided for the party, Spirit of Children also raises money to help CHoR’s child life team make the hospital a little less scary for kids all year long. Since 2007, Spirit of Children has raised more than $1 million for Children’s Hospital Foundation to benefit the child life program.

Over the years, proceeds from Spirit of Children have allowed the expansion of the child life team and services to support patients and families during hospitalizations and medical procedures, and provide a wide range of activities to help kids meet medical goals while having fun.

“No kid wants to miss out on Halloween. Spirit of Children makes sure our patients can still be part of the fun by bringing the party to them in the hospital. This is one of our biggest and most anticipated events each year and the first one in our new Children’s Tower,” said Bethany Fisackerly, child life supervisor.

It’s also the first Halloween party at the hospital since 2019 due to visitation limitations related to the pandemic, though Spirit provided costumes and goodies for the hospital team to deliver to patients the last few years.“

This was an absolutely wonderful experience for me and the team to be able to come in here and spend Halloween with the kids and see how much the Spirit of Children program really impacts their lives, and their joy for this holiday season,” said Ethan Guyton-White, manager with Spirit Halloween. “As an organization, Spirit Halloween loves to see how much the child life program can do with all of the money the program raises each year.”

People standing together with goodie bags

The event was put on by national costume store Spirit Halloween’s foundation Spirit of Children, which has donated funds to CHoR over the past several years. (Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU)

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