GCU Foundation, Havocs bring ‘recess’ to cancer patients

September 15, 2016 / by / 0 Comment
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Thunder and Havocs with Heart cheered up Phoenix Children's Hospital patients Wednesday.

Thunder and Havocs with Heart spent Wednesday evening cheering up Phoenix Children’s Hospital patients.  (Photo courtesy of Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation)

By Mark Heller
GCU News Bureau

For two hours, there was pizza, cookies, coloring, arts and crafts, air hockey, a pool table, pinball, games, swag bags and Thunder.

For two hours, kids fighting serious illnesses could just be kids.

A superhero-themed extended recess inside the “ChildLife Zone” room at Phoenix Children’s Hospital on Wednesday night came together because of the partnerships between Grand Canyon University Foundation and its Run to Fight Children’s Cancer charities — PCH and the Children’s Cancer Network (CCN).

The goal was to celebrate the “superhero” spirit these children face every day in fighting – and coping with — a variety of cancers and illness that require extended hospital stays.

Phoenix Children's Hospital patients had a special visit from Grand Canyon University's Havocs on Wednesday.

Phoenix Children’s Hospital patients had a special visit from Grand Canyon University’s Havocs with Heart on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation)

While the annual Run to Fight Children’s Cancer in March is something of a culmination event, the GCU Foundation and Havocs with Heart student section helped PCH and CCN with donations and fundraising for the evening and beyond.

Debbie Accomazzo called it a “trifecta of goodness” and a “wonderful 360 degrees of support.” Even though GCU’s community outreach manager and Run to Fight Children’s Cancer race director has put on events such as Wednesday night’s (and larger), being there when the planning ends is way more than half the battle.

“These are kids’ lives being impacted and it’s very real,” said Accomazzo, who noted the combined efforts of these organizations have helped fund additional staff and other resources for both PCH and CCN.

Havocs with Heart students Taylor Eggelston, Steve Hunsaker, Karsten Kem, Shelby Langston, Brady Ostendorf and Abbie Ploeser colored, played and crafted with children for two hours, after which Ostendorf said it’s “always worthwhile.”

“We’re trying to provide support for kids and their families and fill in gaps, whether financial, social, psychological,” said Patti Luttrell, who co-founded Children’s Cancer Network in 2005 and remains the executive director. “We’re trying to make a difference and to someday end pediatric cancer.”

Then she paused and smiled: “I’d love to be out of a job.”

Sadly, those jobs will be needed for the foreseeable future.

But for a couple hours, kids, parents and volunteers had the same jobs: eat, play and forget the rest.

“We have strength being together,” Luttrell said. “PCH is the healthcare and environment, (CCN) provides support and resources to help and connect families, and GCU and the Havocs bring the spirit to bring it all together.”

For a wonderful slide show with even more photos, click here.

Contact Mark Heller at (602) 639-7516 or mark.heller@gcu.edu


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