Employees boost patients at Children’s Hospital

By Gilbert Nicholson

Alabama NewsCenter

Photographers at Playtime Extravaganza take great care in capturing their subjects. (Photo courtesy of Honey Cook)
Photographers at Playtime Extravaganza take great care in capturing their subjects. (Photo courtesy of Honey Cook)

Trey Pilston had the pink Playtime Extravaganza T-shirt on, fulfilling his role as volunteer co-chairman of the event to provide three days of fun and frolic for patients at Children’s Hospital of Alabama.

But it was more than just a chance to check off a volunteer box for the Southern Nuclear Information Technology analyst.

“The reason I volunteer is my fiancé spent a large portion of her life in Children’s as a kid due to cystic fibrosis,” Pilston said. “She is now a healthy adult who would not be here without their help. She spent so much time there she refers to the hospital as her second house.”

There are others in the same boat who, for the past nine years, have had the opportunity to forget about their illnesses for a while and have some fun at the Playtime Extravaganza. The event is a partnership between Children’s Child Life Services unit, the Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO) and Southern Company IT.

Photographers at Playtime Extravaganza take great care in capturing their subjects. (Photo courtesy of Honey Cook)

Photographers at Playtime Extravaganza take great care in capturing their subjects. (Photo courtesy of Honey Cook)

Some 60 APSO and IT volunteers staff tables for a variety of activities, including carnival games with prizes; making stuffed teddy bears, having glamour photographs made with movie stars and super heroes, and a magic show. More than 100 children take part in the free activities.

Pilston is not alone in the reason he volunteers.

“I have had two family members that have spent many days, and even months at Children’s, both with cancer,” said event chairwoman Starla Shivers, an IT analyst. “I feel like this is my way of giving back to Children’s for taking care of my family.”

“A lot of our patients with a chronic illness have been seeing Alabama Power here for years,” said Honey Cook, Child Life Services supervisor. “They’ve grown up coming to this event.”

The event is Aug. 9-11 on the second floor of the hospital.

“The partnership means so much,” Cook said. “It provides not only an opportunity for our patients to feel like normal kids, but it provides us as a staff with an opportunity to have something to look forward to. It’s definitely a morale booster.”

It can also result in a shorter stay for some patients.

“It’s therapeutic for our patients to be able to participate,” Cook said. “It helps them heal faster and get out faster.”

Pilston said a new twist this year is a “Back to School” theme, providing the first 100 kids a clear backpack of supplies including pencils, pens, glue sticks, scissors, folders, notebooks and protractors.
“Many people don’t realize there are kids who cannot leave the hospital who must still receive schooling,” he said. “The hospital provides teachers and we have coordinated with them to buy these school supplies.”