LaLa, Scooter, Coco and Sparkles joined survivors, caregivers and families who have lost a loved one to cancer at Olympic High School for the annual Kitsap County American Cancer Society Relay for Life. What an evening! After the opening ceremony including ribbon cutting by the Mayors of Poulsbo and Bremerton, a Boy Scout color guard from Bremerton led the group of survivors on a victory lap to cheers and high fives! All of us felt honored to be part of the evening, making balloons, playing with the kids, cheering, and giving our support to those walking the track.
The role of clowns helping in hospital settings has been documented in medical publications. Adding to that, Jacob Bray a fellow from the Department of Anesthesiology at The Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, just authored an article about the work of Caring Clowns International and the cranio facial surgical team of Komedyplast during their medical missions to Lima, Peru. Dr. Bray was part of the medical team in Lima in January of 2019.
Dr. Bray’s article will appear in an upcoming issue of Pediatric Anesthesia. In part he writes, “Incorporating clowns into the peri-operative team has helped improve the patients’ and families’ peri-operative experience.”
Photos include Dr. Bray with Duffy, Flora and Flossy in Peru; Dr. Bray (center holding child) with the entire medical team; and Dr. Bray in the surgical unit.
Four clowns from Caring Clowns International traveled with a team of 13 craniofacial surgeons, neurosurgeons, anesthesiologist and scrub techs to Lima, Peru where the medical team performed much needed surgeries. Joining us was Loly from Lima, Peru.
Duffy, Flora, Flossy and Rose entertained many children, their families and the hospital staff at the 700-bed Instituto Nacional de Salud del Nino.
The US medical team members are all part of Komedyplast. They all volunteer their time and pay their own way to make these trips. They have completed nearly 230 surgeries; this is the group’s 14th mission to Peru.
Komedyplast is a one-of-a-kind nonprofit, because they focus on correcting complex facial anomalies, in addition to doing cleft lip and cleft palate corrections.
During the week, the surgeons performed 16 surgeries, many of which were full facial reconstructions requiring long seven to nine-hour surgeries.
The four clowns clowned all day our first Saturday there, during “screening day,” when the Doctors take a last look at kids for potential surgeries for the following week. While families are waiting, the clowns entertain the children and adults.
While the Doctors were in surgery, the clowns not only went bed-to-bed throughout the 700 bed children’s hospital but also spent time outside in the hospital courtyard.
This year, we clowned with three special individuals. We met Pepa two years ago. Her husband, David Mata, is the photographer in the communications department at the Children’s Hospital here in Peru. She and David are both clowns and do a lot of clowning with 3.16 Payaso de Hospital. Then, by chance we learned that the fiancée of one of the bellmen at the hotel we’re staying at is also a clown and involved with Sonrisas Eternas (Eternal Smiles) which does ministry work for children. Loly also joined us clowning at the hospital. She is a very caring clown. Then Duffy was alone in the courtyard twisting balloons; inundated by kids. A man stopped by said he knows how to twist balloons. They spent the next two hours twisting literally hundreds of balloons while the other three clowns were inside the hospital. Duffy gave him his clown tie as a way to thank him along with a new pump and several bags of balloons.
The four video links below illustrate the positive impact clowning had for the children; you can see the joy in their faces and those of their parents.
Screening Day. This is the first day where the surgical team evaluates and determines which of the children are selected for the life-changing surgeries.
Cardiac and Surgical Units. This video shows the clown in other parts of the hospital entertaining the children, their parents and the hospital staff.
Beautiful Children. See the clowns and children interacting
Clowning Around. The kids are really engaged with the clowns
Big shout out to several members of the Sun City West, Arizona Rip ‘N Sew Club who graciously donated items and time to make rectangle bags for children in Lima, Peru. Rose the Clown, a member of the sewing club, is traveling to Peru with three other clowns from Caring Clowns International and 14 US cranio facial surgeons.
Upon hearing about this medical mission, members immediately starting sewing rectangle bags. They sewed 50 of the bags with donated fabric, zippers and items to go inside the bags which will be distributed to children at the hospital.
The clowns and the US cranio facial surgeons leave mid-January for the 11 day medical mission. This is the organization’s 15th trip to Lima with the surgeons having completed over 190 complex surgeries.
Thanks to Rip ‘N Sew members for their generosity!!
Kidzz Helping Kidzz has just completed another successful toy drive to benefit children in area hospitals during the holidays. Our successes are deemed, largely in part to the assistance we received last year from Caring Clowns International.
Two years ago, 9-year-old Zachary Darner’s infant brother was quite ill and in the hospital several times. It was then that Zachary decided to try to raise 50 new toys to give to children at two children’s hospitals in the Puget Sound area, feeling that children should feel safe and cared for while in the hospital during Christmas. He went door-to-door in his neighborhood with flyers about his project. He set up four collection boxes in the community and gave a presentation to his school classmates. The toy drive exceeded all expectations, and he distributed 259 toys at the hospitals.
Last year, Zachary increased his goal to 1,000 toys. To help promote the project, then named Kidzz Helping Kidzz, the project received financial support and assistance from the wonderful volunteers of Caring Clowns International. Caring Clowns International adopted Kidzz Helping Kidzz as one of its projects and essentially became the “backbone” of the effort. They helped us to develop our logo and mission, assisted us to develop our budget, and made application on our behalf for grants for which only nonprofit organizations were eligible. They also developed our marketing plan, coordinated with many businesses to take toy collection boxes and helped to service the boxes placed in 28 establishments. They also helped to line up Zachary to speak at Rotary Clubs to get the word out about his toy drive. Again, he exceeded his goal and raised 1,589 toys!
For 2018, Zachary desired to once again collect toys to take to kids in hospitals unable to be at home for the holidays. Zachary increased his goal to 5,000 toys. To support these efforts, again with the help of Caring Clowns International, Kidzz Helping Kidzz formed its own nonprofit organization. And as last year, Zachary gave numerous presentations to Rotary clubs and schools and met with public officials. This year, 55 businesses supported his toy drive by hosting toy collection boxes.
Seven kids, ages 7-15, assisted Kidzz Helping Kidzz by sorting and boxing toys, going door-to-door to distribute fliers with Zachary, and delivering the toys to the hospitals. These kids have formally become the Kidzz Helping Kidzz Advisory Board. They will advise Zachary and our Board on future projects/activities to meet the Kidzz Helping Kidzz mission.
Zachary exceeded his goal and raised 5,890 toys which were given on December 19 to children at Harrison Hospital, Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and Seattle Children’s Hospital. Matt Lorch from Q13 TV News followed the toy delivery and has selected Zachary as one of his “Change Makers.” The story will air in January 2019.
We are sincerely grateful for all the assistance we received from everyone, including Caring Clowns International. The heartfelt generosity of all who have helped has greatly assisted us to reach our goals!
Beth Friedman Darner