Cruising around on her lily pad IV stand, 4-year-old Avery Ellis is as sweet as the Blizzards she helped pass out.
Now before you ask yourself why Avery—or any kid for that matter—would be doing anything besides devouring Dairy Queen’s most famed dessert, here is the answer. Miracle Treat Day.
In a partnership with Dairy Queen and the Children’s Miracle Network, Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital received proceeds from Blizzards sold on July 25.
For the past 35 years, Dairy Queen has helped raise awareness and funds for children’s hospitals across North America through donations via the sale of miracle balloons.
These balloons are put on display at each location to show just how passionate Dairy Queen—and its customers—are when it comes to supporting their local children’s hospital. Miracle Treat Day caps off the summer-long efforts that begin on June 1.
Thirty-five years is a long time. And for the past five of those years, Bob Schilling, a business consultant with Dairy Queen, has been making personal deliveries to the children’s hospital on Miracle Treat Day. Dropping off Blizzards, Dilly Bars and other treats never gets old, he noted.
In fact, he encourages his team at the Walker Street location to visit the children’s hospital to see just how special of a place it is. “The folks are so passionate here,” Schilling said.
‘Should be running through a sprinkler right now’
Special is a word also used by Sarah Ellis, Avery’s mother, who loves the fact that events like Miracle Treat Day take place at the children’s hospital. They give her daughter the opportunity to be a helper, along with the taste of summer she—and so many other kiddos—miss out on.
In and out of the hospital since May, Sarah touched on the great lengths the children’s hospital staff go for the kids to feel special.
There is that word again. Special. It is hard not to use that word when talking about the children’s hospital and families that frequent the hospital. Especially Avery, who, according to nurse technician Tommy Smart, has the biggest smile you’ll ever see. “Anything we do to get that smile is a success,” he said.
And a successful day it was. As Dairy Queen staff loaded the extra treats into the hospital’s freezer to be enjoyed over the weekend, Avery celebrated with a StarKiss popsicle.
Only four licks later, the sugar rush set in. Filling the room with laughter and smiles, she paraded around in her pink dinosaur hoodie, radiating happiness that spread like wildfire.
Just as quickly as the sugar kicked in, the crash followed. Avery offered to sing her mom a lullaby, to help Sarah get ready for a nap. Even as Avery’s energy faded, you couldn’t tell she has missed the majority of her summer, spending time in the hospital for weeks at a time.
Smart, Child Life workers and parents all agree—the kiddos are missing out on summer.
They “should be running through a sprinkler right now,” Smart said.
The effort the children’s hospital puts into bringing events like Miracle Treat Day to kiddos helps normalize the hospital setting, according to Kathleen Kelly, a Child Life worker.
Kelly and her teammate Laura Ayoub stressed the importance of giving the kids a chance to be just that—kids. Taking their mind off all the “doctor stuff” by going beyond medicine, producing a fun environment, is what makes Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital special.