Phillies treat kids at CHOP to Halloween Bash
Club teams with Embassy Suites Hotel for party for cancer patients and their families
Not all children have the opportunity to dress up and go trick-or-treating on Halloween, especially those receiving treatment at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. For the past 23 years, the Phillies and Embassy Suites Hotel have been teaming up to bring an early Halloween treat to the patients and, this year, a new meaning to Halloween for one of their families.
On Oct. 25, nearly 160 CHOP patients and their families were treated to a special Phillie Phanatic Ghostbusters-themed Halloween Bash. For mother Jaclyn Savery, who was waiting in line for balloon creations with her sons Grayson, 5, and Aydan, 6, this event was extra special.
"Grayson was actually diagnosed on Halloween 2012," Savery said. "So Halloween for us, historically, isn't a very good date, and something like this, where we can add fun and excitement, adds a positive twist to a very dark day for us."
Fun for the kids could be found all around the room. As families entered the Liberty Ballroom at the Embassy Suites Philadelphia Airport, they were greeted with music and dancing, clowns, face painting, arts and crafts, and later in the afternoon, a special Ghostbusters dance performance. Former Phillies pitcher Tommy Greene and broadcaster Scott Franzke attended the party, signing autographs and taking pictures with young fans, while the Phillie Phanatic, along with his mom Phoebe and Phillies Ballgirls, danced the day away with the kids.
Sweet treats were available everywhere the children went, including fully-stocked candy for trick-or-treating, mini cakes and assorted goodies, and a life-like Phanatic cake, complete with a Ghostbusters suit and proton pack. Also available were kid-friendly snacks like chicken fingers, pizza, and smiley fries.
Grayson and Aydan, dressed as green and red ninjas, respectively, enjoyed all of the perks of the party. They decorated pumpkins, raided the candy table, made balloon creations (a skeleton for Grayson and ninja swords for Aydan), and loved the Phanatic.
"This is the first year he is not in treatment, so we were like, 'Let's live again, let's make Halloween fun,'" Savery added. "This event means so much for these kids. There's no chemo, no treatment, no hospital; they can just be a normal, typical child, and that's priceless."
Maureen Mason, director of event fundraising and community partnerships at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, shared a similar sentiment on the Halloween Bash.
"The whole family gets to come and do something that doesn't have to do with getting chemotherapy or radiation," Mason said. "When cancer affects a child, it really affects the entire family. It's great for the family to do something where the main focus is fun."
Mason has been a part of planning this event for a long time alongside Phillies community outreach coordinator Kelly Yurgin, who has been involved with the Halloween Bash since 1994. The event, which originated as a player initiative with former Phillies second baseman Mickey Morandini called "Mickey's MVPs," has since grown tremendously.
"No matter what, it has always been such a great party in the end," Yurgin said. "Whether it is for 80 people or close to 200, when it's all said and done, all that matters is seeing the patients in treatment have a day of normalcy -- to just have fun and be kids."