When Dr. Robert Klein and his wife, Karen, began participating in the Children’s Tree of Lights fundraiser 30 years ago, they did it with one thing in mind – to make people happy around the holidays.
“People like the fact that somebody remembers their loved one,” said Dr. Klein, a pediatric surgeon who retired from Children’s in 2003. He was appointed to Akron Children’s medical staff in 1975 and received Emeritus status in January 2004.
Started as a fundraiser by the Women’s Board in 1994, the event is celebrating its 30-year anniversary this December. Participants can buy either individual or strings of white or blue lights to adorn the Norway Spruce tree in Perkins Square Park in honor or remembrance of a loved one.
Dr. Klein says supporting a cause championed by the Women’s Board was a no brainer.
“They do a lot of good things for the hospital,” he said.
Through the years, the Kleins have purchased lights for friends, family and even former patients.
“Families are sent a remembrance card when someone purchases a light,” said Dr. Klein. “It’s a nice way to keep the memory of their loved one alive, especially at the holidays.
“The Women’s Board also publishes a booklet on the different lights and the people who donated them,” he added. “We like to give those to people, too.”
The Kleins often buy for the same families year after year.
“We usually only stop when the living relative dies and there is no one to send the remembrance card to anymore,” he said.
Christine Fleissner, a member of the Women’s Board, says the Kleins’ support has been invaluable over the last 30 years.
“Dr. and Mrs. Klein purchase more than 75 lights a year,” she said. “They are a wonderful family and always thinking of others.”
This year’s lighting ceremony will be held on Dec. 1 at 5:30 p.m. in the Rehabilitative Services lobby on the hospital’s ground level. The event culminates in a tree lighting celebration that features live entertainment, carolers, the Doggie Brigade, a reading of “The Night Before Christmas” and punch and cookies. The program will also be livestreamed to the TVs in patients’ rooms.
Lights can be purchased individually or by the string by clicking here. The deadline to purchase lights is Nov. 17.