The Child and Family Life team kept the Halloween celebration alive this year with a host of fab-BOO-lous activities.

The fall festivities included reverse trick-or-treating, cookie decorating and bingo. Music therapists played guitars and sang in the Balk Café. And special goodie bags were delivered to the outpatient clinic, emergency department, neonatal intensive care unit and 10th floor clinic.

To begin the celebration, Zach Behling, from Zach’s Sprinkles and Sweets, dropped off 100 boxed cookie decorating kits. Each kit contained six pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies, a large bright orange tube of frosting, and two sets of fan-favorite sprinkles.

Thanks to philanthropy and community support, the Spectrum Health Foundation purchased the kits for the occasion.

“We can hand it to patients to decorate or take home,” said Child Life specialist Molly Gering.

“Who doesn’t love food, right? It’s a great opportunity for kids because they love to get messy.”

Did someone say cookies?

Child Life specialist Jeannine Brown rolled the cart of cookies through the hospital floors with her colleagues.

She was greeted by an energetic baby shark eager for his treats.

Charlie Nguyen, 20 months old, dipped his hand in the orange, yellow and white sprinkles to see how they tasted. He offered his seal of approval.

Allie Napierala, Child Life specialist, helped him decorate the pumpkin cookies, but Charlie’s interest zeroed in on the sprinkles. And he was mesmerized by the cameras, putting his face up to the lens for a close-up.

Charlie’s blue baby shark costume was the latest in a series of Halloween outfits he wore during the week.

“Mom picked out five to six costumes,” said Nhat Nguyen, Charlie’s dad. “He didn’t like the tiger one because he couldn’t wear his shoes. Yesterday, he was Pooh Bear.”

Charlie has been in the hospital for about five weeks, receiving treatment for a cold that turned into a more serious infection.

“He was acting normal,” Nhat said. “Within 18 hours it progressed from light to worse.”

Charlie has a 4-year-old sister, Chloe. His dad received a goodie bag and box of cookies to take home to her.

Reverse trick or treating

Child Life team members placed trick-or-treat bags on the doors outside patient rooms and stuffed them with crafts, toys and goodies.

In one room, a young boy eagerly waved and smiled at visitors.

Cruz Blekking, 7, from Muskegon, had been admitted to the hospital for flu-like symptoms. He was set to go home later that day, but not before he got his treats.

His dad, Jesse Blekking, said Cruz had a costume ready at home for Halloween.

“He’s going to be a pizza. Because who doesn’t love pizza?” Jesse said.

Cruz focused on cookie decorating. He acted like a real-life chef, throwing the sprinkles on the cookies with flair and shouting “BAM!”

Cruz plans to trick-or-treat with his brothers Isaac, 9, and Caleb, 2, who will dress up as ranch dressing and Chase from Paw Patrol.

Fairy bat girl

In another room, 5-year-old Brielle Price decorated a pumpkin cookie.

Then she roamed the floor to show off her sparkly butterfly wings, which matched her purple Batman T-shirt. Medical team members dubbed her “fairy bat girl.”

Brielle came to the hospital on Wednesday, said her mom, Maggie Price.

“We noticed both arms were swollen and brought her here,” she said. “She was a former sickle cell patient.”

Maggie said her daughter is feeling better, and she expected her to be home in time to celebrate Halloween with her siblings.

Brielle already knew what she planned to be for Halloween: “Butterfly girl demon slayer,” she said.

The cutest stinkbug

At the dialysis clinic at 35 Michigan St. NE, 5-year-old Anderson Moreno charmed his caregivers with a creative costume—a six-legged stinkbug!

“He wouldn’t take the legs off yesterday. He’s going to wear this all the time now,” said Alicia Moreno, Anderson’s mom.

Anderson had a heart transplant almost five years ago and is now waiting for a kidney transplant. Three days a week, his mom drives with him from Big Rapids for his hemodialysis treatments.

This weekend, Anderson and his parents plan to go camping.

“They do some trunk-or-treating at the campground state park or… camper-treating,” Alicia said.

“Camping is a new experience, and he thoroughly enjoys it. We are here three days a week. It’s nice to be able to escape for the weekend.”


The fun continued in the afternoon with a fall-themed bingo game from the hospital’s Blue Glass Studios TV.

Child Life specialists Jeremy Bergman and Alyssa Cosier host bingo every weekday at 2 p.m. Patients can tune in from their rooms and call the studio if they win to pick out a prize of their choice.