Ding, ding, ding!
Metal balls clanked, rolled and bounced around the glass-covered pinball table.
Kohen Karns, the first patient to use the pinball machine, focused on maneuvering paddles to send a ball soaring at Groot, a character from Guardians of the Galaxy. Flashing lights and the movie’s theme song filled the playroom as the character spat out several steel balls in celebration.
“I got it in Groot’s mouth twice!” Kohen proudly exclaimed. Despite never playing pinball before, he was a natural.
The old-school game with a new theme was generously donated to Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital by an organization called Project Pinball, which provides all equipment, parts, supplies and regular maintenance of the machine at no cost to hospitals around the country.
Daniel Spolar, senior founder and director of Project Pinball, visited the children’s hospital Monday to dedicate the machine and talk about his organization’s mission.
He pointed out the machine’s therapeutic benefits and recreational relief to patients, their families and staff.
“Often, doctors will break the ice with young patients by bringing them to play on the pinball machine before operating,” Spolar said.
This particular pinball machine is also accommodating to patients with special needs. Kids who are unable to pull the spring lever or push the flipper buttons on both sides of the machine are still able to play by pushing just one button in the center.
Kids are able to be kids again.
As soon as a kid pushes the button to start the game, they are completely focused on how to keep the ball moving. It’s all about fun.
“My biggest motivation is getting to see the kids play on it,” Spolar said.