Easter baskets for every child were collected and filled. Approximately 1,000 eggs were stuffed with goodies and ready to go for our first big egg hunt and then . . . it rained and rained and rained for days. Even if it stopped raining for the egg hunt, the field would be too muddy to send the kids out in search of goodies. With some quick and creative thinking by the staff of CCHMC Friday morning, just hours before the hunt, a new plan was set into motion.
We were greeted by eager staff members at the hospital on Friday and got right to work staging events for the kids. The residents filed quietly into the gym while final preparations were being made and you could start to feel the anticipation. One young lady brought tears to our eyes with a beautiful a’cappella song that echoed through the quiet gymnasium. Everyone cheered and then we ‘let the games begin‘.
First up was a relay race carrying eggs on spoons. As if on cue, the rain had stopped just minutes before and while the kids ran and cheered, the Project Believe volunteers headed outside into the courtyard area to hide 100 of the eggs. We had to get creative in a relatively small space with limited hiding places. Eggs were hidden inside of tulips, under leaves, behind bales of hay, and up in the trees.
When we rejoined the kids, they were playing ‘Musical Eggs’ by walking around large colored rubber ‘eggs’ on the floor and having to stand on one when the music stopped. One boy who appeared more shy than the rest and had not wanted to play was down to the final three and ended up winning!
Next up was the ‘Bunny Hop’ in the form of a relay sack race. As the kids figured out the trick to hopping (sometimes more like sliding) from one side of the gym to the other, we gasped and then laughed and cheered every time one took a spill and got back up again.
The last event in the gym was an egg toss and the kids were excited to throw REAL eggs, especially since one hospital staff member had to step in as a partner. Each time an egg was tossed, everyone held their breath and then cheered as someone caught it unscathed. For every unmistakable crash there were ooh’s and aah’s, moans and groans. There were prizes for all of the winners.
And finally it was time for the big event – the egg hunt. We lined the kids up in the courtyard, found a safe-haven where we wouldn’t be trampled, and gave the unmistakable “Ready? Set. Go!”. They took off like lightening, so intent on finding the most eggs and the one special $5 egg. There were shrieks and giggles and laughter. It’s a gift to see them get to be ‘normal’ kids doing ‘normal’ things that so many of us take for granted.
Most impressive was the genuine gratitude, and not just from the staff members. Collectively and individually each child thanked us with ear-to-ear grins but it was really our honor to be their guest at this event on Good Friday.
We left with a secret though. There was more to come. More eggs to hunt Easter morning and we knew every child would wake up to their very own Easter basket filled with items like bubbles, play-doh, and stuffed animals!
As my own daughter found her basket at home on Sunday morning, I couldn’t help but think of how many other kids would get to experience that same simple joy. The curiosity of how it all went was killing me, so I had to call and treat myself to the details and pass them along to all of you who made this happen.
Not only were they surprised and delighted, but have continued to hide and re-hide the eggs for one another. As we tossed around some future ideas for Project Believe, I reiterated our message that we are not out to change the world, just trying to make a little magic through simple acts of kindness. The hospital staff member I was speaking to paid us the highest compliment when she retorted, “But you’ve changed their worlds in an instant”.
And THAT is what it’s all about!
~~~ believe ~~~