A handful of volunteers in costumes made Halloween festivities a reality for kids at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.
They delivered treats in reverse trick-or-treat fashion to the beds of children who couldn’t leave their rooms.
Princess Melissa Ruskey, who has been volunteering with Child Life Services for just over a year and a half, says she really enjoys bringing smiles to the kids’ faces on special occasions like this.
“A lot of the kids I saw today were really excited about this,” she said. “Some were afraid they would miss out on Halloween because they hadn’t had time to find a costume this year. One girl even asked her mother if she could stay an extra day so she could do this today.”
Fairy Godmother Pam Masterson agreed, saying this is a wonderful way to bring a little bit more cheer to kids who might otherwise miss out.
Characters such as Buzz Lightyear, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, and the Fairy Godmother popped in and out of Children’s Hospital rooms one by one on Saturday.
Jolise Kent, RN, and PICU charge nurse on the eighth floor said it’s a lot of fun working on Halloween.
“Where else can you wear fun T-shirts, do reverse trick or treating, watch superheroes visit, and make kids laugh with a fart gun all in one day? I just love it!”
And, yes, she did say fart gun. It’s a top secret tool that the Child Life Team typically leaves locked up for special occasions.
Andrea Idsinga from Muskegon spent Halloween in the pediatric intensive care unit with her daughter, who dressed as a kitty cat fairy. She agreed that the fart gun is a crowd pleaser, and even gave a demonstration of how the device is used for her kids.
“This sort of stuff really distracts us from the day-to-day things going on here,” she said. “It brings a bit of normalcy to our day. And the kids absolutely love it.”
On the ninth floor, a room full of mustache-wearing teenagers visited their friend Terrin Nuismer, who was having his last in-patient chemo session. Terrin was diagnosed with leukemia in May and will be heading home Sunday.
With one knock on the door, volunteer Jeffrey Keyser, dressed as an artist complete with paintbrushes and paint, swooped in on the mustache crew to deliver more treats.
“Are those mustaches real?” he asked. “I have been trying to grow one like that for weeks and haven’t had any luck.”
He drops off bracelets, Halloween jewelry and even decorated Terrin’s IV pole with a few pumpkins.
“Take some bracelets, you guys,” he said. “I’ve got tattoos, too. We can’t really give your IV pole a tattoo though, it might not work.”
Keyser brought his wife, Megan, dressed as a ballerina, along with him to volunteer, as well as friends Annika Ohman, dressed as a Minion, and Cam McKinnon, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.
“Just seeing the reaction on the kids’ faces makes it all worthwhile,” Keyser said. “We really love giving them some fun activities to do while they’re cooped up in the hospital. And we get to dress up, too, which is a bonus.”
“I love that the hospital does this kind of stuff,” said Terrin’s mom, Danielle. “We were just discussing how different it is here at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital versus other hospitals in the area. This sort of stuff really breaks up the day and gives us all something to look forward to. Last night we played hallway baseball using an inflatable light saber as a bat. You missed a really good time!”