By Robert Stoneback
The Danville News
DANVILLE — Between 20 and 30 Janet Weis Children’s Hospital patients celebrated Halloween with the help of medical and volunteer staff.
The pediatric patients, who ranged in age from infants to teenagers, circled their hospital wing in costume, receiving toys and goodies handed out by caregivers and members of the Bucknell University men’s basketball team. No candy could be given out due to dietary restrictions of the patients, who instead received items like glow sticks, temporary tattoos, stickers and toy cars.
Janet Weis provided costumes for any patient who did not have one. Also in attendance was local musician Woody Wolfe, who performed for the patients and their families.
This is the 19th year for the hospital’s trick or treat program, said Sarah Hoffman, a child life specialist with Janet Weis. “It’s important to create a sense of normalcy in the hospital,” she said. “We want to cheer up their day a bit.” The trick or treat event started at around 1:30 p.m.
Coach Dave Paulsen, of the Bucknell University men’s basketball team, has had players volunteering to help out for the past six years he’s been head coach. The tradition started with earlier coaches, he said, and he’s more than happy to continue it.
“We try to do as much as we can and Geisinger’s been really good about reaching out to us,” he said. “They (the players) love to give back, they understand and appreciate how lucky they are to be healthy and go to a school like Bucknell.”
There were five basketball players and several coaches in attendance on Halloween, including senior Ben Brackney. This was his first time volunteering for Trick or Treat at Janet Weis, but he had volunteered to help out last month at Geisinger’s Beads of Courage event.
“It’s great to see these kids here, being happy and enjoying Halloween as every kid should,” he said.
Tiffany Spotts, of Lock Haven, was making the rounds with her two-year old daughter, Kalyn, who was just admitted to Janet Weis on Wednesday. Kalyn was dressed as a princess, in an outfit given to her by the hospital. “All the help with the costumes was pretty cool,” Tiffany said. “I was looking forward to doing this (Halloween) around Lock Haven. … But its cool we could do it here.”
Chelsea Seo, of Mount Pocono, was Trick-or-Treating with her six-year old son, Christian, who was also admitted on Wednesday.
They weren’t expecting to spend Halloween at a hospital, but were pleasantly surprised by the Janet Weis event.
“We didn’t think we’d be able to Trick or Treat. … This was helpful,” Seo said. Christian was dressed in his Power Ranger costume, which his mother had gone back to their home in Mount Pocono to retrieve.
Allison Lamma, a clinical dietitian at Janet Weis, was dressed as Wonder Woman and handing out plastic whistles to the Trick-or-Treaters. “I’m having a great time. … I’m glad to be a part of it,” she said. “I think it’s a really fun way for kids to celebrate even though they’re in the hospital.”
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