BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
Those happy families you might be seeing today on your sidewalk dancing, scootering, skipping, and taking photos might just have something in common: their love for Lurie Children’s Hospital. Move for Kids, the annual Soldier Field celebration has gone virtual this weekend with no enthusiasm lost and an extra day of fun added.
We asked Lurie’s Jessica Brooks, Gift Officer for Community Engagement, to tell us how her team pulled off this significant fundraiser that draws in over 3500 families annually when hardly anything could remain the same.
“In mid March we began to hear from the Park District about closures and felt we had to make our decision early. We knew that we needed to bring our community, which cares so deeply for the Hospital, together at this time of isolating and realized that we could involve the whole country by going virtual. We knew that we could use social media to tell our stories and then to have participants tell their Move for Kids stories this weekend on their posts which they are sharing with us and we share on our sites.”
With over 100 Hospital employees to help Brooks brainstorm, Friday activities were added with a focus on wellness, including yoga and meditation that the hospital’s wellness coordinator and chaplain helped shape. Friends and business associates have set up all sorts of teams with sponsors for the different events each day. One of the fundraising aspects was the chance to challenge a friend to participate in a fitness class, and if the friend turned you down they had to pay $25.
Saturday was all about kids with “chalk your walk” being one of many suggestions, then “movie night for kids” at the end of the day. Snack packages with Summer House cookie dough, popcorn, and other delights were donated by Lettuce Entertain You and purchased by happy movie fans online to benefit the hospital.
Today is all about getting out and moving and it is not too late for YOU to participate. Brooks explained:
“It’s time to get your quarantine team outside while social distancing. The Hub Group, our presenters, produced a very inspiring video. Our CEO and Medical team welcomed everyone from our live Facebook stream. Move with Kids has always been a very hands-on event with people personalizing their own t-shirts, decorating their strollers, all very creative, and that’s true about this year, too.”
Alexis Jiminez, a 15-year-old patient and decision maker on the hospital’s children’s advisory board, serves as Move With Kids Patient Champion, telling his inspiring story on Lurie posts.
Teresa Gulo, mother of almost-five-year-old Kate, told us that her daughter will be out today chalking and scootering with brother Jason and baby sister Sadie. It doesn’t bother Gulo at all that she may be chasing after Kate who never wants to stop moving.
“Movement is such a gift! We can’t wait to be out today to celebrate Lurie’s.
“At 18 months we knew that something was starting to go very wrong with Kate. At 22 months we learned at Lurie that she had a very rare autoimmune neurological disease that occurs in one in a million people. She possibly would never walk.
“We have been Lurie patients since late 2016 and have always known that the staff is there because they want to work with kids. At each juncture, kids come first. Kate’s disease is very rare and the doctors show none of the ego you hear about some doctors, they are happy to consult with experts at other hospitals to find the very best results.”
For Brooks, her weekend has been a balance of last-minute logistics including getting as many photos of participants up on social media and taking a little time to move with her family.
“I have a 19-month old who loves to collect rocks and sticks, and I am sure we will be out doing a bit of this for Move With Kids while being available to answer questions.
“The silver lining is that accomplishing this at the time of the pandemic has taken us all outside our comfort zone to try something new and it has worked to remind people how much good Lurie is doing for families.
“And hopefully, we will be seeing everybody at Soldier Field next year.”
Please visit: luriechildrens.org