LOS ANGELES, Calif. (March 21, 2018) – Starlight Children’s Foundation, an organization committed to bringing joy and comfort to hospitalized kids and their families, today announces the finalists for its inaugural Starlight Design-a-Gown contest. Starlight Gowns are revolutionizing children’s hospital gowns by replacing traditional, ugly and uncomfortable gowns with ones that are fun, comfy and colorful – and best of all, kids love to wear them.
Starlight received a blitz of more than 6,000 creative submissions from kids, families, hospitals, schools and supporters across the US. Participants created unique designs in hopes of having their art be featured on 30,000 Starlight Gowns in partnership with Niagara Cares, the philanthropic arm of Niagara Bottling. Many of the submissions were motivated by a person’s desire to bring happiness to a hospitalized child in their life.
“We were blown away by all of the fantastic design submissions and went through a year’s supply of tissues in just one month reading the inspiring stories that Starlight has received from the Design-a-Gown contest,” said Chris Helfrich, CEO of Starlight Children’s Foundation. “Thank you to the kids, families, All Star ambassadors and our generous corporate partners for the outpouring of support for the Starlight Gowns program, this contest and for making year one such a smashing success. We encourage America to vote for their favorite Starlight Gown and see the designs come to life, bringing joy and comfort to hospitalized kids.”
The first finalist is six-year-old Jack of Crystal Lake, Illinois who wants to help his little sister, Everly, seven months, who was born with a congenital heart defect. Jack created his Starlight Gown complete with hearts and tons of glitter. He hopes Everly will be able to wear his gown for her life-saving open-heart surgery this summer. Ava, 13, a determined Girl Scout, and brother Maxwell, 10, of Tustin, California are the second finalists who designed a cool, comfortable and out-of-this-world Starlight Gown for their cousin Benny, who lives in Redwood City, California outside of San Jose. Benny was diagnosed at six months with a rare form of cancer. They hope the fun space inspired gown will bring joy to Benny and other children who undergo frequent hospital visits. The third finalist is Kimberly, 36, from San Luis Obispo County, California who is a wife and mother of three who dedicated her design to her six-year-old daughter, Violet, who suffers from three rare genetic conditions and faces many hospitalizations. Kimberly, a self-taught artist, drew a majestic elephant to symbolize strength. Her light-hearted design features elephant ears on each sleeve and an elephant’s behind on the back to bring laughter to hospitalized kids and their families.
Design-a-Gown celebrity All Star, Hall of Fame Sportswriter and media personality, Rick Reilly, traveled around the country to interview and produce short featurettes on each of the finalists. Watch the videos and vote for a finalist on starlight.org.
Public voting is now open on starlight.org and will close at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, April 6. The winner will be announced on April 9. Starlight’s generous partner Niagara Cares will provide 30,000 of the winning designs to children at Starlight’s network of more than 800 children’s hospitals and other health care facilities nationwide.
Starlight Gowns replace ugly and uncomfortable traditional children’s hospital gowns with ones that are soft and comfortable, tie down the side instead of open in the back and feature brightly colored fun designs that transform kids into astronauts, deep sea divers or their favorite movie characters. Originally launched in the fall of 2016, the program has already provided more than 145,000 Starlight Gowns to hospitalized children across the United States thanks to the generosity of partners and grassroots donors. The gowns were originally conceived and designed by LA-based entrepreneur Summer Germann to honor her 10-year-old brother who passed away from pediatric cancer in 2002.
Additional support and funding has been provided by The Michaels Companies, Inc., the national retail partner for the Design-a-Gown contest, and The Joy in Childhood Foundation, the charitable foundation supported by the Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins brands.
Starlight’s Design-a-Gown All Stars, a prominent team of more than 50 actors, athletes, musicians, fashion icons, tech leaders and business gurus such as Coldplay front man Chris Martin, personalities Martha Stewart, Rick Reilly, Kristin Cavallari, actor and director Elizabeth Banks, actors Neil Patrick Harris, Melissa Joan Hart, Noah Schnapp, and Bryce Dallas Howard, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and cast members of Modern Family, among many others, have all supported Starlight as ambassadors throughout Starlight’s Design-a-Gown contest.
ABOUT STARLIGHT CHILDREN’S FOUNDATION
Starlight creates moments of joy and comfort for hospitalized kids and their families. For 35 years, Starlight’s programs have positively impacted more than 60 million critically, chronically and terminally ill or injured children in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK. With your help, more kids and their families will enjoy Starlight Gowns, Starlight Fun Centers and other Starlight programs at more than 800 children’s hospitals and other health facilities in the US. You can support Starlight’s work by visiting www.starlight.org and by following Starlight on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
ABOUT NIAGARA CARES
Niagara Cares, a philanthropic arm of Niagara Bottling, is committed to supporting local and national community initiatives serving children and families in need by engaging stakeholders and investing its resources. Niagara Cares efforts include national strategic partnerships, local community grants, employee engagement, volunteerism and the Andrew D. Peykoff, Sr. Scholarship Program. For more information, visit www.niagarawater.com/niagara-cares.
ABOUT THE MICHAELS COMPANIES, INC.
A Fortune 500® Company, The Michaels Companies, Inc. is North America’s largest specialty provider of arts, crafts, framing, floral, wall décor, and seasonal merchandise for Makers and do-it-yourself home decorators.
As of October 28, 2017, the Company owned and operated 1,371 stores in 49 states and Canada under the brands Michaels, Aaron Brothers and Pat Catan’s. The Michaels Companies, Inc., also owns Artistree, a manufacturer of high quality custom and specialty framing merchandise, and Darice, a premier wholesale distributor in the craft, gift and decor industry. The Michaels Companies, Inc. produces a number of private brands including Recollections®, Studio Decor®, Bead Landing®, Creatology®, Ashland®, Celebrate It®, ArtMinds®, Artist’s Loft®, Craft Smart®, Loops & Threads®, Make Market®, Foamies®, LockerLookz®, Imagin8®, and Sticky Sticks®. Learn more about Michaels at www.michaels.com.
ABOUT THE JOY IN CHILDHOOD FOUNDATION
The Joy in Childhood Foundation, the charitable foundation supported by the Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins brands, provides the simple joys of childhood to sick and hungry kids. The Foundation brings together a wide range of stakeholders — including franchisees, crew members, employees, partners and guests — and partners with food banks, children’s hospitals, and nonprofit organizations directly committed to serving sick and hungry kids to fund joyful environments, joyful experiences and joyful expressions to ensure that children whose lives are compromised by hunger or sickness have the support and essential services to find joy in their daily lives. Since launching in 2006, the Joy in Childhood Foundation, has granted more than $16 million to hundreds of national and local charities across the country.