Bringing Halloween to Kids and Families in the Hospital

Little girl with Ninja TurtlesPatients and families celebrated Halloween a little early this year thanks to Spirit of Children, the charitable arm of Spirit Halloween. Spirit of Children hosted a Halloween party for patients and families complete with costumes of all shapes and sizes, a visit from Donnie and Leo from Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and a plethora of Halloween decorations for the kids to enjoy.

For some patients, this party was a welcomed bright spot in their hospital stay. For others, this day marked a milestone that will never be forgotten.

Celebrating Halloween from the hospital

Ciaran Grandi, 7, thought he’d have to miss out on Halloween this year. He’s been away from his home in Eastern Washington for almost a year receiving treatment for acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL).

When Anna Foley, Ciaran’s mother, heard about the party she hoped her son would get a chance to join in the festivities. She crossed her fingers and had a quick chat with their nurse. They were given the green light.

Ciaran Painting Pumpkin 3 Smile
Ciaran decorates a pumpkin in the playroom.

“He didn’t think he’d get to have a Halloween,” said Foley. “He’s missed so many other holidays this year; he thought he’d have to miss this one too. When the nurse gave us the okay to come to the playroom, he was so excited. He kept telling everyone we passed in the hallway where we were going. It may not have seemed like a big deal to them, but for Ciaran it meant the world. He was just beaming with excitement.”

And what a milestone it was – visiting the inpatient playroom for the Halloween party was a first for Ciaran.

He’s been in and out of treatment at Seattle Children’s since Dec. 29, 2014. Until yesterday, he was never been able to go to the playroom.

“He’s a brand new guy,” said Foley. “It made his day! He came up to me with a smile on his face, the first I’ve seen in a while, and said, ‘I can’t breathe I’m having so much fun.’ It’s just amazing to see him so happy.”

Ciaran was only able to stay in the playroom for about 30 minutes, but in that short amount of time he packed in a full day of fun. He painted a pumpkin, decided Batman was the costume that suited him best and posed for pictures with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Ciaran With Ninja Turtles“Kids in the hospital might not be able to go out for Halloween,” said Lina Lewis, senior playroom coordinator at Seattle Children’s. “But many can come to the playroom and have a great Halloween experience. It’s an opportunity for kids to be kids and dress up and have fun.”

Ciaran will be away from home for Halloween this year, but at least now he’s ready to celebrate in Seattle with a brand new costume. Although he’s already a superhero to staff at Seattle Children’s, this year he’ll have the opportunity to dress up as one.

Bringing smiles to kids all year

Spirit of Children not only brings Halloween fun to children and families at the hospital, they also raise funds year-round for Child Life departments in hospitals across the country. To date, the program has raised more than $22 million for Child Life programs including art therapy, music therapy and animal assisted activities.

A Spirit of Children volunteer blows bubbles for a little girl in the playroom who is dressed as a Disney princess.
A Spirit of Children volunteer blows bubbles for a little girl in the playroom who is dressed as a Disney princess.

“We bring Halloween to the kids and aim to make hospitals less scary for children and their families,” said Bridget Bartlett with Spirit of Halloween. “In three short months, through fundraising in area stores, we help keep these programs going for children and families.”

For more information about Spirit of Children, or to donate, visit the Spirit of Children’s webpage.