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Our Mission, Values & History


Our Mission

Delivering happiness to seriously ill kids.

Our Values

  1. Service: We are motivated by a strong commitment to serving seriously ill children

  2. Integrity: We do what we say we will do to make a positive change for seriously ill children and their families

  3. Accountability: We are accountable to those we serve and our donors, as well as ourselves

  4. Caring: We are passionate, dedicated, and care deeply about our mission

  5. Teamwork: We are one team with one goal - to deliver happiness to seriously ill kids

  6. Excellence & Innovation: We strive to go beyond expectations, always seeking new and better ways to achieve our mission

Our Impact

16 million

smiles delivered to children served at 800+ hospital partners

Deliver Happiness to Seriously Ill Kids Today

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Our History

  • The early 1980s witnessed the rise of philanthropic commitment to pediatric care. As a pioneer in this humanitarian endeavor, Starlight is proud to take its place among beloved charities supporting this critical issue.

  • In 1982, our co-founders, filmmaker Peter Samuelson and his cousin, actress Emma Samms delivered happiness to our very first Starlight kid by hosting him and his mom on a trip to Disneyland.

  • On February 2, 1983, Starlight was officially incorporated in the United States as a 501(c)3 charitable organization. Peter and Emma drew inspiration for our name and first logo from the famous poem, “Star light, star bright/First star I see tonight/I wish I may, I wish I might/Have this wish I wish tonight.”

  • In 1990 Starlight built our first-ever Starlight Space in Los Angeles to create a state-of-the-art and interactive environment where kids and families can relax and enjoy their time together.

  • In 1992 Starlight launched our Gaming program in partnership with Nintendo of America. Starlight Gaming brings the healing power of play to hospitalized kids by providing easy access to their favorite video games, movies, TV shows, and later, streaming content. 

  • In 2013 Starlight introduced our Deliveries program where hospital partners can register to join our network and receive donated arts and crafts, books, toys, games, and products and services that kids love. 

  • In 2016 Starlight began its Starlight Hospital Wear program with the introduction of Starlight Gowns.

  • In 2019 we launched Stream For Starlight, a peer to peer fundraising campaign through online streaming of a favorite activity.

A seriously ill child enjoying video games on our Starlight Nintendo 64 console in the hospital (1998).
A seriously ill child enjoying video games on our Starlight Nintendo 64 console in the hospital (1998).
Actress Dakota Fanning visiting a seriously ill kid in the hospital (2006).
Actress Dakota Fanning visiting a seriously ill kid in the hospital (2006).
Starlight Tablets put the power of technology in kids’ hands (2014).
Starlight Tablets put the power of technology in kids’ hands (2014).