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Author Topic: My St Jude Children's Research Hospital visit.  (Read 16519 times)
Force Sensitive

Force Alignment: 17
Posts: 6

« on: February 14, 2017, 09:46:04 PM »

My St. Jude Children's Research Hospital visit was a wonderful experience. Despite my trepidation, the most difficult part of the experience turned out to be carrying eighty pounds of comics from the parking lot to the lobby of the Chilis Center. That served to remind me once again that getting back in the gym had been a good idea and I really needed to embrace it more consistently.
Dressed in my Jedi robes and with my trusty light-saber dangling from the overly ornate girdle (sorry, "belt") around my midsection; I was met and assisted by a Child Life Specialist. She led me to a spot where three tables and perhaps a dozen chairs were set up in sort of a U shape. I immediately pulled out some comics and some bundled worksheets I had printed out from the internet. The CLS was extremely helpful and provided a big box of crayons, as the ones I had brought were my son's and the hospital prefers to avoid used items. When I learned of this aversion I immediately panicked. I had just toted in a huge heavy box mostly full of used comics! She reassured me that they waived that concern on books and printed items (whew!).

Once I had spread my goodies out on the tables, the only thing left was to announce my presence with authori-tah. It is amazing how much attention igniting a light-saber will draw, even in a crowded space. I will gleefully admit I have the Cadillac of light-saber toys. It is loud, bright, and makes all kinds of different noises when one swings it or hits something. I was not quite prepared for exactly how much immediate attention that noise draws in a space filled with milling people.

It probably wasn't a full minute before a tiny boy with a dinosaur shirt came over with his mother. She asked if they could take a picture with me. I was happy to acquiesce, I even put my outer robe back on for the pictures when requested. The outer robe is made of a delightfully soft 100% cotton lightweight flannel with a subtle herringbone pattern. It looks great, but in a climate controlled building and with three other layers it can quickly become a bit too warm. I think I posed for 10-15 pictures that day.

The most memorable picture request was from a child who might have been all of three or four years old. As small as all children are at that age, my hand on her shoulder quickly ascertained her frail delicacy. She had been wearing a surgical mask to hide the medical tube running around her ear and into her nose. She was covering a medicine balded head with a knit cap and her sallow skin and sunken eyes revealed her dire illness, but the light-saber still attracted her eye like an optical magnet. Her mother had to put her down to take the picture, and she leaned close to me as I knelt. There is an almost instinctive tenderness that is summoned in the presence of such a child, a yearning to defend the precious and weak. She held the light-saber up in front of her for the picture and that effort seemed to drain the energy a smile would have demanded, but her eyes danced and her joy was still quite clear.

That children wanted pictures was no surprise to me, but the picture request from the parents in their late 20's/early 30's made me chuckle. Only twice did children and their parent(s) actually sit down for a few minutes and color the print-outs or work the connect-the-dots, but everyone who came received comics and game-sheets and seemed both excited and grateful.

One child and his folks encountered some friends and lingered for about half an hour. The child happily gabbed away about how much he liked Star Wars, swung the light-saber around several times, read (or at least studied the pictures in) one of the comics, and eventually had to be forced by his mother to give the light-saber back to me so they could leave. He left in his mother's arms, wailing loudly about how he wanted the light-saber. If I made problems for those kind folks, I deeply apologize. One of my favorite phrases has always been "You're old enough for your wants not to hurt you", but this child was not quite that old. It brought to mind an experience when I was perhaps three or four and we were living in Louisville Kentucky. We had just gone to the zoo or something and the most magical part for me was the glorious red helium filled balloon I had gotten. It popped loudly the second it hit the hot air in the car for the ride home. I was inconsolable until my older brother in an act of loving kindness gave me his balloon. It wasn't red, but it was love. That tiny loss, the experience of being torn from delight and met with kindness, is one that helped form my outlook on life (thanks, big brother). I hated seeing the child so upset, but I remembered that he would still have the memory of the red balloon. I only hope the moments following his separation from the toy were eventually wonderful enough to outweigh its loss.

Whenever the light-saber wasn't being played with, it simply sat on the table, shedding its friendly purple glow and humming away happily. Generally I think of the particular sound setting it was on as quite loud. Not so much in a large echo-ey room full of milling people. The sound would quickly fade from my notice as I cheerfully approached kids and parents to ask if they would like some comics or if they would like to swing the light-saber. The entire time, we kept a small area clear so people had room to swing it or hit a column to make the toy crackle and moan.

One little fellow became entranced by the motion sounds of the saber and began hopping into ACTION poses with one leg extended straight out to the side and the other knee bent while holding the saber sideways with both hands at about shoulder height. He was a serious little guy, excited to keep the dark side at bay.

Anyone who came over was welcome to swing the light-saber, but one particular kid stood out to me. The child was wheelchair bound and quite weak. He had trouble swinging the device vigorously enough to elicit a reaction from the motion sensor, so I helped out by showing a trick where one can just turn it to make the noise rather than having to swing or strike something.

I thank the staff at St. Jude for such a rich and wonderful experience. I don't know how much I accomplished for the kids, but I have been richly rewarded by this. During the event, an older woman asked if she could donate a collection of stuffed animals and was told to contact LeBonheur as they received fewer donations. I was certain to ask my contact for someone over at LeBonheur I could speak with to arrange an event over there. That said, I will post details and another fund-raising request soon.

One final Thank you to all my friends and the kind souls who made this possible. I am one with the Force and the Force is with me. May the Force be with you all.

"When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won.  There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall...  think of it, always" Mohandas K. Gandhi, the Mahatma

Lord Canterbury
Dark Knight of The Scorpion Order
Knight Commander

Force Alignment: -1313
Posts: 1972

Fish Fingers & Custard

« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2017, 04:36:53 PM »

Glad to hear that went well. 

I'm sure it's hard to see all those sick kids and if you brightened their day at all, that is wonderful.

Winning? Is that what you think it's about? I'm not trying to win. I'm not doing this because I want to beat someone, or because I hate someone, or because I want to blame someone. It's not because it's fun. God knows it's not because it's easy. It's not even because it works, because it hardly ever does. I do what I do because it's right! Because it's decent! And above all, it's kind! It's just that. Just kind.

~ The 12th Doctor in "The Doctor Falls"

Knight Major

Force Alignment: 15
Posts: 376

« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2022, 06:07:17 PM »

Love your story! Almost makes me cry. As a person interested in the medical education (simulation) community as well as the one I find myself writing in now what a great mix of the two. I have some gret mash ups of the two also. For instance the medial convention I attend every for years also is the place that San Deigo ComicCon is. Imagine showing up in your costume at the medical convention. I have seen some cosplayers photos from the medical convention.

Stats (vitals)
Collection so far

Aeon v5 le in SRD with what used to be lite sound and sentinel v5 stunt pommel aka my night pommel, crashing now since I broke it AkA my old night saber

Azure Fallen diamond my main dancing saber

Initiate v2 stunt in orange cannot tell what one
Now with 40in night blade ultra edge heavy grade main sleep saber

Apprentice v5 stunt hot pink purely a daytime and disaster saber

Crimson Dominicide in BR lite sound
My number 2 sleep  saber

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