Using the attendance and energy at two recent Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley events as an indicator, it’s safe to say the community is ready to celebrate the holidays.
And basket raffles and Santa appearances aside, supporting the kids was on the minds of attendees and event planners.
“I’ve come to this event the last four or five years and have yet to win anything, but that’s OK because it’s all for the kids,” said Nancy Lamancusa, a retired school teacher from Girard who attended the Holiday Hopes and Wishes luncheon.
Lamancusa said her workout buddy from the Boardman YMCA, Eleanor Watanakunakorn, buys a table each year and invites the ladies who’ve gotten to know each other at the Y out to lunch. They’ve made it a holiday tradition.
“She brings us all together. She’s a live angel,” Lamancusa said.
Holiday Hopes and Wishes
Holiday Hopes and Wishes, with more than 400 in attendance, raised money for the newly expanded behavioral health department on the Beeghly campus. Its growth will increase patient capacity 50 percent and increases the number of services available locally.
“This is one of our favorite events of the season and it’s another great turnout this year,” said Grace Wakulchik, president and CEO, Akron Children’s Hospital. “And it’s great to see the support for our behavioral health department, which is a great win for the Mahoning Valley.”
“Twenty percent of adolescents have mental illness severe enough to impair their function,” he said. “And of that group, only 1-in-5 get diagnosed and treated during their adolescent years. The earlier you intervene, the more successful the outcome.”
He hopes the increased awareness of mental health and emphasis by pediatricians to screen and identify behavioral health issues will lead to more families seeking treatment. And now Akron Children’s can provide more services locally, including intensive and partial hospitalization, when necessary.
Breakfast with Santa
Santa Claus, a mascot parade and several craft stations were among the main attractions that drew 350 parents and children to the annual Breakfast with Santa event.
“We look for festive things to do around the holiday season and this is one of our favorites,” said Sparkle Sanders of Campbell, who attended with her 7-year-old daughter Gemma.
Luann Maynard, director of development at Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley, was impressed with the energy and festive spirit in the room, as well as the participation of volunteers and corporate sponsors.
“We cannot do this without the support of the community, and it’s clearly all on display today,” Maynard said.