How Does Play Inspire Resilience and Courage in Hospitalized Kids?

Meet Danika 

Danika embarked on a journey marked by strength and the unwavering support of a compassionate community on January 17, 2023, when she was diagnosed with pre-b cell leukemia high risk. One year into a 2.5-year treatment plan, Danika lives with low immunity, and her time outside K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital in New Jersey is sparse.  

Chemotherapy has brought a set of obstacles, including a noticeable limp, for which Danika is undergoing physical therapy. To manage severe hypoglycemia, she recently had a nasogastric tube (NG tube) inserted, a crucial step in regulating her blood sugar levels.

Enduring the medical necessities, the hospital has transformed into a comforting space for Danika, thanks to programs like Starlight Toy Deliveries. Play is an essential distraction during challenging moments. Not only that, play is important as it supports a child’s emotional development, helping them express their emotions. The healing power of play helps make each medical procedure a little more manageable while leaving a lasting impact on Danika's spirit. 

Hospitalized child in play room with child life specialist

"There was a week she had to get her finger pricked every hour, sometimes every half hour, and most times she didn't need an incentive to do it, but sometimes her fingers were so swollen she would refuse anyone touching her. If they were able to come in with a little toy or coloring book, sometimes that's all she needed to be motivated enough to get pricked again." - Jennifer, Danika’s mom 

For Danika and her family, receiving a toy is more than just a gift. These small gestures bring joy and distraction, allowing the parents to focus on understanding the medical information provided by the doctors.


Danika's journey continues and is a testament to her resilience. The ongoing support from Starlight supporters like you helps more than 3 million hospitalized children like Danika across the country.

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