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Starlight Starbright Children's Foundation is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming the lives of seriously ill children and their families through imaginative programs that educate, uplift their spirits, foster a sense of community and help alleviate the pain and fear of prolonged illness.
When a child is seriously ill, everyone in the family is affected. Sometimes the daily struggles of caring for a sick child are so oppressive, the thought of leaving the house for a family event seems impossible.
Starlight Starbright understands what families go through when a child is sick, and the importance of breaking the cycle of depression and loneliness. The Great Escapes Program was created to provide families with a chance to spend recreational time together to relax, regroup and return home with a renewed sense of strength and hope.
Feeling Both Normal and Extraordinarily Special
The variety of activities offered through Great Escapes is endless: movie screenings, circus trips, harbor cruises, mother-daughter makeovers, sporting events, picnics and more. Starlight Starbright and our corporate partners and donors underwrite all event costs to make every Great Escape an "all inclusive" affair, allowing families to relax and enjoy themselves while someone else worries about the details.
Everything about Great Escapes is designed to make a sick child feel extraordinarily special, from the personalized invitations to being greeted by name at every event. But more importantly, Great Escapes also make the children feel incredibly normal as they experience fun activities in a friendly, accepting environment. Starlight Starbright children also report feeling good that they are the reason their family gets to enjoy an unexpected treat - rather than another unexpected crisis.
Parents frequently cite Great Escapes experiences as truly therapeutic, giving courage and energy to all family members. In recently conducted focus groups commissioned with parents, sick children and siblings, families reported that Great Escapes also provide:
- A sense of hope for the future
- Valuable connections with others facing similar challenges and "emotional companionship" for the journey
- Priceless family memories away from hospital or clinical settings; for some families, Great Escapes are among the last outings they'll have with their sick children
- Rare opportunities for social and interpersonal interaction
In addition to needing to reconnect as a family, seriously ill children, parents and siblings have an incredible need to interact and bond with other families. Time and time again, families who participate in our focus groups convey the importance of having a social support network.
At Great Escapes, family members are able to meet others who are facing similar challenges and who can relate to their circumstances, reducing their feelings of isolation. This community-building bolsters spirits, provides outlets for buried emotions and creates a vital support system during the most difficult times in a family's life.
Starlight Starbright families make lasting connections through Great Escapes - connections that endure through medical treatments, the hope and despair of serious illness, and even the tragic loss of a child.
The Great Escapes program is supported by a wide variety of in-kind donations and cash contributions. It is a valuable investment and a chance for community involvement that yields tremendous rewards for both the corporate sponsor or donor and the many deserving Starlight Starbright families they host.
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- Allison Curbo
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