In the Fall of 2010, my 3-year-old-daughter Lilli paraded through the halls of Doernbecher Children’s Hospital dressed like a giraffe. I walked behind her with her IV bag filled with chemotherapy as she skipped along with her best friend Bella, who, incidently, was dressed like a ninja turtle. Just hours earlier, Lilli and Bella were stuck up in their respective rooms, cranky, bored, and feeling rather grumpy from their treatments. And then, Chelsea’s Closet came to visit, and everything changed.
This wasn’t Lilli’s first experience with Chelsea’s Closet. In fact, the giraffe costume was a special request that Lilli made to Jason Hicks. She had been looking forward to that silly costume for weeks. And when it finally came smiles emerged and laughter erupted. Dressing up was the best medicine she had all month.
It wasn’t the last time that Lilli wore her giraffe costume. She wore it trick or treating, she wore it to dance in living room, she wore it out to eat. It never surprised me when we woke up in the morning and Lilli asked me “Mom, can I be a giraffe today?” I never said no. Pretty soon this became a routine, Lilli wore a costume to every hospital visit. Snow White, Jessie the Cowgirl, Cinderella, Belle, Rapunzel, a cook, a ballerina. She danced to her radiation appointments wearing ball gowns that she just picked from the costume cart. And when she arrived, her nurses didn’t write “Lilli Trippe” on the patient board, they wrote “Snow White” instead, and Lilli loved every single second.
When Lilli passed away, I wanted to do something that would make her proud of me, and I knew in my heart that no matter how hard I tried; I couldn’t imagine a better model for a charity than the Chelsea Hicks Foundation. So instead, I joined their efforts, and a now have the privilege of working along side of them to make CHF a stronger, and a more prominent foundation. I sincerely hope you’ll join me.
Chelsea’s Closet brings new costumes to hundreds of seriously ill children each year. And each month, I have the privilege of watching children’s faces go from sad to excited, from scared to confident. It’s a powerful tool that only dress up and play can extend. Our model is quite simple. We bring an enormous rolling costume cart filled with new costumes. Every inpatient child and their siblings gets to pick their favorite costume, join in on a parade, and participate in a craft. This allows our kiddos not only to experience joy, but to transform into another dimension. To be a superhero. To find strength and confidence through dress up and play. Lilli loved it. I know you will too.
Check out this video of Lilli participating in Chelsea’s Closet:
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