As some of you may know, I recently became interested in bringing more smiles and laughter to children, especially kids in hospitals.
This e-x-t-r-e-m-e-l-y lengthy post was written initially about my visit to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and being inspired by Rachel Gambrill, a little girl with anaplastic ganglioglioma. Sadly Rachel eventually passed away from the very rare adult brain tumor but not without leaving many of us inspired by her love & zest for life.
Since the post went live on March 16, 2012, 3 days after Rachel passed away, I added updates & photos about my adventures bringing smiles to kids, most notably, my February 2013 trip to Austin, TX. Scroll all the way down for updates and photos.
This post includes 95% of the donations we made in 2012 and 2013 to children’s facilities or caregivers working directly with children.
Spreading the Laughter Around: Laffy Laffalot & Marshmallow Launchers
I first learned about the laughter toy, Laffy Laffalot, in the fall of 2011. I bought a Laffy for myself and instantly fell in love. I know all about the benefits and power of laughter.
This toy goes where laughter yoga leaders and even therapeutic clowns can’t go. Laffy is simply perfect for hospital applications! He can be cleaned, sanitized and even dropped – no matter what – he keeps laughing.
In December 2011 I bought a case of Laffy Laffalot toys and donated them, with love, to Nemours/Alfred I duPont Hospital for Children in Delaware. Since that initial case donation many more cases have been donated to AI.
Two weeks after my first donation to Nemours/AI, I delivered a a case to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (scroll down for photos). I was born and bred in Philly so making this donation warmed really my heart.
Feedback about laughter & Laffy Laffalot from Child Life
I gave a Laffy to a family of 5. The youngest son, 9 months, is here with a brain tumor. He has been in the hospital almost 90 days with discharge was out of sight. Parents have been here around the clock and usually don’t ask for anything. Dad participated in Laughter Yoga on the Sibling day in which it was used so he was already familiar with it. He really enjoyed receiving one of his own and was excited to share it with the family. He immediately opened it when I gave it to him and played some of the laughs for the son (who had slight reactions). Overall, they appreciated the gift a lot and said once the son starts laughing that he will record it to let everyone hear! – Child Life professional
I was called in to support a 20 month old little girl to rule out sexual abuse. Before I went down to our emergency department, one of the items I grabbed was a Laffy and I was so glad that I did. Though initially puzzled, the little girl lit up when she heard all the different types of laughing and giggling. They were also so grateful they would get to keep Laffy. When I explained about all the support we receive from the community, they were amazed and humbled. These moments of play allowed me to better support my patient during a difficult afternoon. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful resource with our program. – Child Life professional
I gave out one Laffy to an 11 year old female who has Leukemia and she LOVES it! She played though all the laughs repeatedly for about 20 minutes and even recorded a few into her iPad to send in a text message! She was very cute and very appreciative of it!! – Child Life professional
To those of you wondering “what’s in it for Christa?”, I am here to tell you my reward is seeing people smile & laugh. I have NO financial interest in the Laffy Laffalot company or in the marshmallow launchers. I do this work because I am called to do so. As I’ve said before, I’m on a giggle mission from God.
What’s A Marshmallow Launcher?
Marshmallow launchers help kids have fun while doing respiratory therapy. Marshmallow launchers are also a fun way for kids & adults like me to let off steam! Thank you Pat Bohman from Kelsey’s Kids for bringing these launchers to life!
Feedback about Marshmallow Launchers from Child Life
Just wanted to let you know that the marshmallow launchers are a hit, as I know you already knew they would be! Our child life specialist in clinic has done some great therapeutic play-and the kids are just having fun-with them! – Child Life Staff at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia
Art therapy intern and myself used this as a therapeutic activity with a 4-year-old and his father. The patient splits us up into two teams: The three of us versus his father. We used the patients bed as protection and had a battle. Not only did this patient benefit from this activity, but the father stated is helped him release some tension as well. – Child Life Staff at Alfred I DuPont Hospital in Delaware
I had a pre-teen patient who had her sister help her create a target of the things she did not like or was unhappy about. She used the marshmallow shooter with her sister to shoot at the targets and was laughing so much!! She had such a good time and it was extremely therapeutic. Her mom even reported not seeing her smile like that in a long time. I left the room to let her and her sister continue to shoot the marshmallows and I could hear them laughing all the way down the hall!! It is such a simple, yet powerful tool!! – Child Life Staff at Alfred I DuPont Hospital in Delaware
In addition to donating Laffy’s and launchers, I enjoyed leading a Laughter Yoga session for the parents of pediatric oncology patients at Nemours/AI duPont on March 3, 2012. March 3rd also happens to be my perpetual 39th birthday. Leading these parents in laughter and seeing them smile, play and laugh was by far THE BEST birthday present I have ever received. One of my favorite parts of the session was teaching parents how to perform an ancient yogic breathing technique called, kazoo pranayama. Ask me about it!
Thank you Beth Carlough, Child Life Coordinator, for inviting me to lead the laughter!
For the CHOP donation, I placed a card inside each Laffy toy with a little note. I wanted people to know the case of toys was being made in honor of Maggie Achuff, a little girl from the Philadelphia area who stayed at CHOP but sadly lost her battle with cancer. I never met Maggie but I knew her parents from my days working in the restaurant business. Maggie’s parents run a home based mission called, Maggie’s Ministry, to bring food, aid & supplies to parents at CHOP.
Thanks to CHOP
I would like to thank CHOP, Meagan Andrews and Stephanie Rogerwick for giving me permission to use these photographs and allowing me to bring some laughter to the kids in my hometown of Philly, the City of Brotherly (now Giggly) Love.
My staff has started distributing Laffy and the kids are really enjoying them. Many people have never seen this before so it is quite a fun surprise! – Stephanie Rogerwick
March 22, 2012: I had to make a decision to modify this Laughter Drive as previously written to adhere to certain requirements regarding donations to non-profits. I made a decision today to personally donate several more cases of Laffy toys to AI duPont Hospital for Children in Rachel’s honor. I am working with Rachel Gambrill’s mother, Karen Pierce, to ensure the Laffy Laffalot toys are delivered to children who most need to smile and laugh.
April 12, 2012: I gifted 2 cases of Laffy Laffalot toys to the Rainbows for Rachel Foundation. Karen Pierce, Rachel’s mother, agreed to help facilitate distribution of the laughter toys to children in the oncology department at AI. THANK YOU KAREN!
April 17, 2012: Another case of Laffy Laffalot toys was gifted to the Child Life Department at AI duPont today.
August 2012: As of today, more than 120 Laffy Laffalot toys and 180 marshmallow launchers were purchased and donated to area hospitals for the benefit of sick children and their families. I hope to do more in the months ahead. God Bless and Giggle On.
December 2012: $1,500.00 was donated to AI duPont Hospital for Children for their Child Life Department. A portion of these funds will aid in the purchase of mobiles for infants and babies. Update July 2013, the mobiles for infants were purchased and in use at Nemours!
February 2013: 2 more cases of Laffy’s were sent to AI duPont Hospital for Children and on February 18th I donated 3 cases of Laffy Laffalots and about 100 marshmallows launchers to Dell Children’s Hospital in memory of the late Jim Ed Sims (the guy who gave me the name “Giggle On”). Special thanks to Steve Islava and Katie McHenry of the Laffy Company and Pat Bohman of Kelsey’s Kids for helping me spread smiles to kids in need. While in Austin I ordered 15 more cases of Laffy’s with 4 to be delivered to Texas (thanks Becky for acting as my POB). I shared Laffy with some great organizations in town like: The Christi Center, Wonders & Worries and the Cedar Park fire station. More units are on the way to CHOP in Philly, Maggie’s Ministry, AI duPont and Kelsey’s Kids Foundation.
March 2013: As I sit here on March 4th in my rental unit in Austin, I am preparing to drop more Laffy’s to The Christi Center, Wonders & Worries & Livestrong headquarters. A few days ago, while sitting at the bar at Shady Grove in Austin, I met a man named Warren Harris, a DJ for the Zilker Kite festival at DJ for KNON in Dallas. Warren told me he knows the Funnyatrics, a healing clown group working in a children’s hospital in Dallas. I gave Warren a few Laffy’s to distribute to them. Laffy is everywhere, man! *laughing*
March 5th: On my way back to Delaware I stopped at St. Jude’s in Memphis and delivered a case of Laffy’s to them. March 8th, Warren delivers Laffy’s to Funnyatrics at Children’s Medical Center Dallas.
March 14th: Delivered Laffy toys to Supporting Kidds in Delaware and the Ronald McDonald House. Giggle On has been a fan of Supporting Kidds for some time. We participated in a fundraiser for them several years ago. We also held out Survivors of Suicide Loss meetings in their facility. Supporting Kidds is a center for supporting and educating bereaved children, their families and the larger community in which they live.
April 10th: We received feedback today from the Child Life Department at Dell Children’s about the Laffy & marshmallow launcher donations. Laffy is making many children giggle and smile. due to the size of our donation we were told some of the Laffy’s were shared with Shoal Creek Hospital. I also received a lovely (but confidential) note from a friend about how Laffy positively impacted a Delaware girl who passed away last year and another child who is currently receiving help from Supporting Kidds.
April 19th: Sponsored and led a Laughter Yoga class for students from Bohemia Manor High School and showed them Kazoo Pranayama (donated 30+ kazoos). Donated 1 Laffy & 90 kazoos to CancerBWare. The kazoos are en route to the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center’s pediatric unit.
May 1: Donated (through my other company) 4 boxes of baby rattles, Baby Alive dolls, musical toys for infants and teethers to Nemours/Alfred I. duPont
June 19: Sent 10 Laffy Laffalot toys to Bangalore, India for Dr. Madan Kataria (Founder of the Laughter Yoga movement). We’re waiting on updates from Dr. K to see how he’s using them.
June 26: Donated several Laffy Laffalot toys to the Ministry of Caring in Wilmington, DE and provided a laughter session for the staff who works to serve the poor in our community, including children.
July 11: Donated a Laffy Laffalot to the J Foundation, organization helping terminal children in the tri-state area. Hoping to use Laffy with the J Foundation to raise money for their organization!
July 16: Donated a Laffy Laffalot to Contact Lifeline. Although the donation wasn’t for children directly, Contact Lifeline staffers (caregivers) need stress reduction and emotional support to provide suicide prevention, crisis services and rape counseling to people (some of which may be under the age of 18).
September 26: Donated 5 Laffy’s to Shriner Clowns, c/o Weird Warren Harris, DJ from Dallas Texas, whom I met earlier this year in Austin, TX. The Laffy’s arrived at Warren’s office just in time for the State Fair of Texas Parade (photos below). Warren, aka ‘the Giggle Ranger’ also delivered a batch of Laffy’s to Dallas Children’s Hospital for me. He gave a Laffy to the real Ronald McDonald (proof below)
November 26: Donated 10 Brave Kids Cape kits to Nemours/Alfred I duPont, special thanks to Christina Wallerstein of Playopolis.
December 23: With the help of a Giggle On donors, over $1,100 in gifts, iTunes cards and supplies were delivered to Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for hospitalized teens. Specials thanks goes to Erin Barillare, the middle school students at Ursuline Academy, Angie & Steve Kogut, Joyce Ostrand, Katie and Mark Shreve, Patty Kingery, Kelly Gates, Erika and Josephine Kurtz, Soniu Ebert, Anita Gery, El Delgado, Jennifer Balkum, Judy Christofferson, Chris Vennard, Brenda Joy Good and Steven Kendus. For a full list of items donated, visit the this Facebook post for details.
Photos of some of our donations
It is my hope and intention to continue to raise funds to keep bringing smiles, giggles and joy to people of all ages, all races and all backgrounds. I want to help serve a big heaping plate of laughter to everyone.
If you would like to help me spread laughter, toys & laughter yoga to people in need of joy, please contact me at (302) 593-3913 or email christa at giggleon dot com.
Peace. Love. Giggle On!