May the Fourth brings “A New Hope” to chronically ill children.
SAN LEANDRO, Calif., May 4, 2022 – Dr. Sameer Bakhda, a devoted Star Wars fan and one of 50 Disney Magic Maker honorees, joined Lucasfilm and Starlight Children’s Foundation p distribute Star Wars-themed programs to pediatric patients at George Mark Children’s House (GMCH). The event took place on “May the Fourth,” better known as Star Wars Day.
Many of the littlest fans were surprised when some of the biggest Star Wars enthusiasts from volunteer groups – including the 501st Legion, Rebel Legion, R2 Builders Club and the Mandalorian Mercs – arrived dressed in full costume as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Princess Leia, R2-D2 and other recognizable characters.
For three-year-old Molly, a patient at GMCH with Angelman syndrome and seizure disorder, this certainly was a treat. According to her mom, Molly loves Star Wars.
George Mark Children’s House, a Starlight Children’s Foundation facility partner, provides life-affirming care for children with illnesses that modern healthcare cannot yet cure or for those who have chronic medical conditions. The pediatric palliative care facility offers five types of service: transitional care for children, end-of-life care, respite care, perinatal care, and bereavement care.
Kyle Amsler, child life coordinator at GMCH, said, “George Mark Children’s House is proud to partner with Starlight Children’s Foundation to provide moments of joy to our patients, like Molly. Our child life team utilizes Starlight programs like virtual reality, gaming systems, wagons, and toy deliveries to bring happiness and improve the quality of life for children facing potentially life-limiting illnesses. Of course, the Star Wars items are always a big hit with the patients.”
Dr. Bakhda, a physician in emergency medicine at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, was honored as a Disney Magic Maker for sparking everyday magic through kindness and good deeds. He co-founded LiningUp.net, a nonprofit benefiting Starlight Children’s Foundation that preserves the tradition of “lining up” and brings together avid fans to celebrate each new installment of the franchise. LiningUp.net raised over $100,000 for Starlight to help deliver happiness to sick kids in hospitals and facilities, including George Mark Children’s House.
To bring the magic to life at GMCH, Dr. Bakhda joined Lucasfilm and the fan-based groups, distributing Star Wars-themed Starlight programs, including hospital gowns, care packages, and toys.
“I think you could certainly see it on their faces when they come through. You've got some smiles, you've got some excitement, even for the kids who maybe aren't able to understand and fully know what's going on – something magical for them to see. It's definitely something special that is brightening their day,” Dr. Bakhda said.
Adam Garone, CEO of Starlight Children’s Foundation, said, “We’re incredibly grateful for the longstanding partnership with Disney and Lucasfilm, helping us bring smiles to seriously ill kids. By slipping on a Star Wars-themed Starlight hospital gown, patients magically transform into Chewbacca or R2-D2, distracting them from the stress of medical procedures and conditions.”
According to Garone, Starlight Hospital Gowns replace less comfortable traditional hospital gowns with high-quality, pajama-like fabric that children love to wear. In addition, the kid-friendly design with tiesdown the side and plastic snaps on each shoulder allow easy access for medical procedures.
Since 2006, Disney has collaborated with Starlight Children’s Foundation on the Disney Delivery program that reaches over 450 children’s hospitals across the United States. Leveraging the power of all of their beloved brands and stories, each of the tri-annual delivery includes toys, games, books, movies, and other special surprises that connect patients and caregivers to Disney’s beloved stories and characters that can deliver joy when it’s needed most.
VoluntEARS from Lucasfilm also joined in to make the event special.
This May the Fourth is one Molly and other kids and their families at George Mark Children’s House will never forget. Join Starlight and Lucasfilm in delivering happiness to hospitalized kids across the country by donating today.