Saturday, November 8, 2014

SIUH: Princess Tea Party

Throughout my time as Miss Staten Island, I have worked closely with Staten Island University Hospital and its patients. Back in May, Child Life Specialist Vivian Alestra approached me with the concept of a "Princess Tea Party."I had visited the hospital many times, but the idea of having an intimate gathering of pediatric oncology/hematology patients and making them feel like beautiful princesses was extra-special. I was absolutely all in.

Vivian and I worked together (mainly through phone conversations and emails) to work out the little details of the event. When the time finally came for our tea party, though, I was blown away. The room was decorated like every little girl's dream. Crowns, castles, wands, and pink & purple colors were splashed all around the room. Vivian had even set up hair, makeup, and nail stations so that the girls could be pampered. It was beautiful.
One by one the children began to arrive and the expressions on their faces said it all. There were over 20 girls in attendance and, thanks to CITGO, we were able to present each girl with her own crown. They were so excited to "look like Miss Staten Island." Of course, I brought an extra crown and sash along, too, for them all to try on.
We enjoyed music, cupcakes, entertainment and tea. It was a royal party, for sure!
One the of most wonderful parts of the day was meeting Lilia Barabash. Vivian had told me so much about her and I was excited to finally meet her. Lilia created the organization "Mark's Angels" after her son passed away at age 3 from cancer. Now, she generously donates gifts to SIUH for every holiday - and Vivian tells me she has never missed a single one! Thank you for turning your heartache into something beautiful, Lilia. Your daughter, Maria, and your new little baby, Marta, are going to grow up to be such strong women because of your example.
Before we said our goodbyes I handed out gift bags I had made for each of our special guests. I even signed a few autographs! I left the hospital feeling inspired and proud to be promoting my platform, "Inspiring Action Against Pediatric Cancer." Thank you, Vivian, for your constant support and for allowing me to touch the lives of so many young patients.

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