Child Life Program Inspires Grandma to Raise Money for a Starlight Gaming Station

Denise DiCostanzo paced the hallways of Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in New York, feeling overwhelmed by the news of her granddaughter’s diagnosis. Amanda was battling E. coli Shiga toxin, as well as hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), a condition that affects the blood and vessels. The 12-year-old experienced severe pain and endured blood tests and transfusions for 16 consecutive days.  

“Although I think of myself as a very strong woman, I was so overcome with grief and the reality of what was happening to Amanda, I was unable to hide my tears and fears,” said Denise.

The anxiety Denise felt led her to walk the halls, speak to every staff member, and read every brochure. She got to know the dedicated doctors, nurses, and child life specialists and was impressed by the care and additional services they offered to provide comfort to Amanda. It was a relief to see her granddaughter enjoying her time with arts and crafts, games, and movies from the Arts Therapy Department run by the team of Child Life Specialists.

The holidays were fast approaching and seeing happiness delivered to her granddaughter inspired Denise to give back. She went online to see what the hospital had on their “wish list.

The first item was a Starlight Gaming station.

Starlight has been working with Nintendo for nearly 30 years on creating custom-made entertainment stations for seriously ill children in hospitals, which can be rolled right up to their bedsides. They offer both fun and relief to kids, from helping with physical therapy activities to providing distractive entertainment. Each Starlight Gaming donation of $5,000 allows Starlight to send a hospital-friendly station with all the hardware, training, set-up, and ongoing Starlight support over the seven-year lifetime of the station.

“As much as the hospital needed the Starlight Gaming station, I needed to do this,” said Denise. “It was my diversion from the horror I was witnessing. I never did anything like this before so it was a challenge and I was determined to succeed.”

Denise created a GoFundMe account and began asking family and friends to contribute to the cause. Soon enough, Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital was gifted with their brand-new Starlight Gaming station—and Amanda made a 100-percent recovery!  

Sponsor a Hospital to Bring Starlight Gaming to Seriously Ill Kids  

Now, Denise has a special place in her heart for child life specialists who helped her granddaughter recover.

“I believe the work they do is another piece of the puzzle to heal the patients they attend to,” said Denise.

Denise raised more than the amount needed to donate a Starlight Gaming station so she gave the remaining funds to the Child Life Creative Arts Therapy Department and her granddaughter was by her side to deliver the check.

Would you like to make hospital experiences less scary for children at your local hospital? By choosing to Sponsor a Hospital like Denise, you can directly impact children in your community by fundraising for Starlight Gaming stations, Virtual Reality, and other Starlight programs.

Not sure which hospital to support? Let us help you find the hospital with greatest need in your area.

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