National Geographic and Starlight Children's Foundation Deliver Joy and Adventure to Young Patients Nationwide
Disney and Starlight Host a National Geographic-themed Delivery Event at Children’s National Hospital
Critter Fixers’ veterinarian Dr. Hodges Surprises Patients With a Special Appearance
Washington, D.C., SEP. 29, 2023 – Recently, Disney and the nonprofit Starlight Children’s Foundation teamed up to deliver National Geographic Kids STEM activity kits, toys, and books to young patients at children’s hospitals nationwide in September. To celebrate this inspiring delivery, National Geographic, Starlight Children’s Foundation and Children’s National Hospital hosted a fun-filled delivery event in Washington D.C. to unleash the power of play and adventure, providing patients a much-needed escape from the stress and uneasiness of hospitalization. A highlight of the celebration was the opportunity for patients and their families to meet the popular National Geographic show Critter Fixers’ veterinarian Dr. Vernard Hodges, along with therapy dogs as a surprise at the event.
Kids and families enjoyed playing with the activity kits and toys, providing kids the chance to play, explore and learn. Dr. Hodges shared his journey of becoming a veterinarian and the host of a popular National Geographic show to inspire kids to pursue their dreams in the STEM field. There were live demonstrations on how to examine a puppy and how to hear your own heartbeat with a stethoscope.
“As one of the nation’s top five children’s hospitals, Children’s National is dedicated to providing the best healthcare experience for every patient and family,” said Kathy Gorman, MSN, RN, FAAN, Executive Vice President for Patient Care Services and Chief Operating Officer of Children’s National. “We are grateful to our wonderful partners for bringing positivity and joy to our hospital and for helping us go beyond medicine to heal a child’s body, mind and spirit.”
The delivery and event are part of Disney’s $100 million commitment to help reimagine patient experiences in children’s hospitals globally and efforts by National Geographic to support local communities and inspire the next generation of explorers. Courteney Monroe, President of National Geographic Content, who spoke at the event, added: “It was an honor to represent National Geographic today and partner with Starlight Children’s Foundation and Children’s National Hospital right here in our own backyard. I hope some of the Nat Geo toys and activity kits we were able to bring helped provide a brief distraction from the day-to-day for these incredibly brave children. At National Geographic, we like to tell stories that entertain and inspire a deeper connection to our world – for both kids and adults – and hopefully, we brought a little of that magic today!”
“At Starlight, our mission has always been centered around the well-being and happiness of children, particularly those battling illness and undergoing treatments in hospitals. We believe every child should continue to explore the wonder and imagination of childhood, no matter what they’re going through,” said Christine Soldner, Senior Director at Starlight Children’s Foundation. “We’re incredibly grateful to Disney and Children’s National Hospital for their continued support in helping us bring our mission to life through today’s National Geographic-themed event.”
According to Soldner, Child Life teams at partner hospitals, such as Children’s National, provide Starlight’s vital programs as play and engagement tools to help young patients get through the stress of serious illnesses and hospitalization. Starlight offers its programs — including Disney-themed toy deliveries, Hospital Gowns and Pants and more — free of charge to children’s hospitals and healthcare facilities in the U.S., thanks to Disney’s longstanding support.
Community members can also play a part in transforming hospital moments for seriously ill children. To learn more, visit starlight.org.