For most kids, a stay in the hospital isn’t enjoyable. In fact, it can be scary. Former Akron Children’s employee Amanda Adey and her family know what comes with frequent visits to the hospital and hospital stays.
Her 10-year-old daughter, Lyndee, spent the first three months of her life in the PICU for heart defects.
“We are still frequent flyers here,” she explained, adding she and her family have had lots of good and bad times at the hospital.
Lyndee’s hospital experiences combined with Amanda’s former work as a social media manager for the hospital inspired the family to create Lyndee’s Costume Closet, a non-profit dedicated to providing costumes to brighten the day of kids at the hospital.
“One day at work I was asked to drop what I was doing and find a Spider-man costume for a little guy who needed to meet his hero,” Amanda said. “But finding an adult Spider-man costume in the middle of winter wasn’t easy.”
Amanda was able to find a costume and Spider-man was able to make a special visit to the patient, but that experience gave Amanda the idea to start collecting costumes for patients.
“Often, the need for a costume for a patient comes at a moment’s notice,” she said. “So the ability to have several costumes at the ready, whenever they’re needed, makes all the difference.”
Lyndee’s Costume Closet recently made its first official donation to the hospital, delivering a rack of 12 adult-sized costumes ranging from Elsa and Anna to Chewbacca to Captain America.
With firsthand knowledge of the hospital experience, Lyndee says it’s important to give kids in the hospital joy.
“It makes me happy that kids get to see their favorite characters when they’re sick,” she said.
It’s the little things at Akron Children’s that made a difference for Lyndee and Amanda, and their family.
“There’s something magical about Akron Children’s and I’m so excited that we get to
contribute a little bit of magic back to a place that’s made a difference for us,” Amanda said.
The Adeys plan to use any donations to the closet to purchase more costumes for volunteers and healthcare staff to wear to brighten the day of patients.
The Child Life staff at Akron Children’s know just how much a visit from a hero can make a difference.
“I’ve seen kids just jump out of bed because they’re so excited to see their favorite character,” said child life specialist Olivia Dujanovic.
Katie Fleck, another child life specialist, says a visit can be just the thing to keep someone motivated to do the work to get better.
This was on full display during a special visit from Captain America and Batman, recently. Using costumes from the Costume Closet, nurses Jonathan Baldridge and Justin Wood dressed as the superheroes to make the day of Brayden, a patient who was working hard to improve the strength on his right side.
After seeing his heroes, Brayden immediately challenged each to an arm wrestling match, using his right and left arms to test the strength in each.
“These visits can really make someone’s day and give their recovery a boost,” Katie said.