Starlight Fun Centers Are Fun for the Whole Family

You will always hear laughter coming from Jayden’s hospital room.

“We laugh every day. No matter what we’re going through, we find some sort of humor in it and we make sure to laugh at it because it can truly get you through the worst times,” Jayden’s dad, Andy says.

Jayden was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis in 2004, he’s now living a happy life at the age of 17.

Jayden was diagnosed in 2004 with bacterial meningitis that caused severe brain trauma, kidney and liver failure and right-side paralysis. He is deaf and mute and suffers from non-stop seizures. He is constantly in and out of the hospital at Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital in Hackensack, New Jersey. Despite all of this, Jayden is a happy, playful and lovable 17-year-old. 

Starlight Fun Centers Help Jayden be a Kid

“We live in hospitals for days, weeks and months every year,” Andy says. “Despite that, we try to make him feel like a normal kid.”

Jayden recently had his gallbladder removed, which should’ve had him home after three days, but he ended up having to stay for two months. One of the ways Jayden enjoys being a kid is playing video games and watching movies on the Starlight Fun Center. Fun Centers come fully equipped with all the best Nintendo Wii U games, as well as online access to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.

“Living in hospitals, you have to make it fun,” Andy explains. “Not only for my son, but when my daughter comes to visit. They both sit on the bed and play games together. It just makes it more comfortable and makes it more relaxing. The game centers help them be kids.”

Andy with his kids, Jayden and Dakota.

A Family Who Never Gives Up

Andy and Jenny, Jayden’s mom, take care of Jayden full-time together. Andy was a detective at Passaic County Sheriff’s Department but chose to retire early to help take care of their son. Life is busy: while Jayden needs around the clock care, they also have an 11-year-old daughter.

“I have some days that I don’t think I can do it anymore – and then Jayden sees that and he makes a silly face at us and we all start laughing,” Andy says chuckling to himself. “He makes us keep going.”

Jayden is still recovering from his gallbladder surgery and getting stronger every day. The family’s motto is that laughter is the best medicine. And it seems to be working.

“It’s always something, but we get through it with laughter, being silly, watching funny movies and thanks to you guys, we get to play video games.”

For just $10, you can give kids like Jayden an afternoon of fun and games on a Starlight Fun Center. Donate today because a sick kid is still a kid!

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Tara Millspaugh

Digital Media Manager

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