Another sunny beach day in Florida turned into a flurry of snowflakes, snowball fights and frosty holiday fun to the delight of patients and families at All Children’s during the annual WinterFest extravaganza. It’s a chance for sick children – many of whom have spent weeks or even months in the hospital with a variety of illnesses – to forget their cares and enjoy an evening of fun and even some Florida snow.
“The Child Life department works hard to create meaningful experiences for the children and families in our care,” explains Child Life director Kristin Maier. “Our goal is to provide a touch of normalcy through therapeutic and expressive play experiences like WinterFest for them to enjoy.”
WinterFest includes a rooftop filled with snow, live music, arts and crafts, fun holiday foods and a special visit from some favorite super heroes. The much-loved event is sponsored through the generosity of Valpak for the second year in a row.
Little Madison was completely surprised to find snow flurries landing on our rooftop Pirate Deck. It didn’t stop her from tossing snowballs in her purple pajamas and getting her face painted. “This was a great distraction for us,” exclaimed her surprised mom, Shanntel. “She was so restless in the room. She’s made a few polar bear cookies. We got our picture taken with superheroes, and the pirate ship is great. This has been a great experience and everyone is wonderful, including the doctors and staff.”
Even the superheroes had a great time. "I've been in the Heroes Alliance for several years," said the Flash (AKA Ivan). "I love seeing the kids smiling and happy. I know when I was young I would have loved to see a superhero show up. It makes me happy to do this."
"The holidays can be an exceptionally challenging time to be hospitalized for children and their families." Maier continued. "Each year with the help of community donors and sponsors, we are able to create events like Winterfest and next week's All Kids Wonderland, which will provide a one-stop shopping experience at no expense to families with a hospitalized child."
All Kids Wonderland relies on donors to deliver new, unwrapped gifts to the hospital every year. These gifts fill the shelves in the Wonderland shop. Family members are guided through rows of donated toys and assisted with gift wrapping and delivery. For more information on how you can get involved in events or donor opportunities, please contact the Foundation at 727-767-4199.