Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Last week the Young Associates Board, held a Halloween party for children receiving treatment at Children's Memorial Hospital.    The children pick the theme of the party every year and this year they chose Superheroes as the theme.   The theme could not have been more fitting since they are after all, the real superheroes.   

For three days, YAB Board Members and volunteers transformed the 4th floor at Children's Memorial Hospital into a floor full of fun and excitement.  Patients were given their own YAB super hero capes, head bandana's and Superhero goodie bags with candy and a Teddy Bear.    While patients waited to see their doctor, they would take turns playing games like Tick Tack Toe and Bozo the Clown Bucket Game.   If they weren't playing the games, they were coloring their bandana's and YAB Superhero pictures. 

This was my first hospital party that I was able to help with and it truly was a memorable experience.   Seeing the faces light up on the children when they step off the elevator to see their doctor's waiting room full of excitement, laughter and people dressed up like superheroes!   The patients couldn't help but smile especially when they put on their special YAB super hero capes.   

I found myself in awe of these brave little kids.   Despite the obstacles they face each and every day, they still enjoy life and have the most positive outlook on life.   They try to not let their battle get in the way of their happiness.   The families of the children were smiling ear to ear because their child was.   That is what YAB is all about.    Helping provide care and services to the patients with pediatric brain tumors and their families.   This annual Halloween Hospital party is just one way we give back. 

Photo by Jody, Jody Kmetz Photography

The biggest takeaway I learned from this experience is humility.   When you can put a name and a face to something, it automatically becomes personal.   Sometimes it takes us to know someone who has a disease or been affected by a disaster for that issue to become personal.   After meeting and spending hours with the same kids each day, I found myself leaving the hospital much more humbled and grateful than I was before I walked through the hospital doors.   Each and everyone of the kids that I have met have a very special place in my heart.   They are MY superheroes and I made sure they knew that before I left.   

The children also reminded me of my good friend Reid VanGelderen.   Reid passed from a long battle with cancer and he spent so much of his battle at the DeVos Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Oncology ward  Reid was a kind, genuine, compassionate and a true friend.   His spirit lives within me and is my inspiration in leading me to join YAB.  Now when things seem to be incredibly stressful, overwhelming, or unfair, I take a moment to allow myself to recoup and remember how small of a thing it is compared to what others are dealing with.

I think we all lose sight of this.   We are all busy and can let things get to us.   I am 100% guilty of this, but that is why I love philanthropy and the act of charity.   To me philanthropy is what keeps my feet rooted to the ground and my head on straight.    Volunteering and giving my time to help others is my way of being a real life superhero.    I know I don't have super powers like Superman or boat loads of money like Bill Gates or Warren Buffett, but I have my time and my knowledge.   Two of the greatest powers anyone can use to help those in need.    I love being on the Young Associates Board because I get to help a cause that is close to me and put my skills to do good.    

"A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles."  ~ Christopher Reeve

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