Hurley to celebrate miracles with magic at annual Benefit Ball

FLINT, Michigan — Magic is in the air for the Hurley Benefit Ball this year, an event that will raise money for both Hurley’s Child Life Services and the Hospital Elder Life Program. 

As the president of the Hurley Foundation seemingly, impossibly untied two pieces of rope, he also described the beauty of magic and its connection to healthcare. “What does a trick like that do? It distracts you, it holds your attention, it holds your focus and helps your mind drift off from something else,” Mike Burnett said.

“It’s about helping kids in the hospital who need distractions from uncomfortable circumstances, uncomfortable procedures and with our senior patients who have their own vulnerabilities, it’s about helping them to focus and draw their attention and make sure they are staying oriented while they are in the hospital.” 

The Magic of Hurley Benefit Ball is 6 p.m. March 2 at the Holiday Inn Gateway Center. Ticket and sponsorship information is available online

It is the 38th annual benefit ball and features an opportunity to learn more about the HELP and Child Life Services programs. 

“We are the only hospital in this area that services the elderly with this extra gentle layer of care that they deserve,” said HELP Director Ruba Mahfouz-Alkotob. 

The free program includes sleep protocols, herbal tea, massage therapy, essential oil mists for sheets and pillows as well as classical music. Outpatient care also extends to transportation, dental care and exercise programs.

“Its remarkable to see the improvement of what just a few days of visits can do for someone,” said volunteer Tanya Parrish. 

Parrish said she loves volunteering through the program because it offers her the opportunity to experience history. “Giving back fulfills something within you,” she said. “You get so much by just sitting and talking with someone, finding out about who they are and where they came from. Often their life experiences teach you so much about yourself.” 

HELP currently operates on two floors at Hurley and is looking to expanding to a third. 

On the other hand, the Child Life Services program helps children understand the medical world surrounding them and helps them cope with their illnesses. 

Part of that can be keeping boredom at bay with games and activities. It can also be using medical play and age-appropriate dialog to help young people understand what is happening. 

“We do whatever it takes to make that environment something the child can understand, because when the child can understand the child can cope and when they can cope it allows these amazing doctors and nurses we have on staff to concentrate on their medical care,” said Laura Parcels, director of Child Life Services.

Child Life Ambassador La Cracha Handy said she knows just how important this program is. Her son Tavares, 12, was treated for osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer that often occurs in children. 

Tavares had a portion of his leg replaced by a metal rod and Handy said the program was pivotal in helping him remain comfortable and active. “During his impatient stay he was very upset because he used to go to an after school program called Youth Quest,” Handy recalled, “so the Child Life specialist came up with Hurley Quest.” A sealed bag arrived for Tavares every day filled with activities. 

“They always check in and let you know that they are their for support — not just activities, but for emotional support,” Handy said. “They would check on me, too.” 

Today, Tavares is doing well with 3.7 grade point average, with an interest in robotics. 

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Read more articles by Jake Carah.

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