Until late last year, Griffin Anderson, 7 of Madison Heights, had never been hospitalized.
Fortunately, the Moonbeams for Sweet Dreams program, which launched at Beaumont Children’s Dec. 1, 2017, proved to be a soothing distraction to his fears and uncertainties.
“In anticipation of the 8 o’clock hour, he would watch the minutes on the clock,” said his mother, Nicole Anderson. “By 7:50 p.m. each night, Griffin was ready with his glow necklace and flashlight. It was something he looked forward to all day.”
Throughout the month of December, members of the community armed with flashlights gathered outside the hospital to send comforting beams of light up to the tiny patients on the 5th floor between 7:55 and 8 p.m. each night.
“We were counting down the days until Christmas and hoping we’d be home for the holidays, but the event allowed us to celebrate each night, and feel a part of Christmas,” said Anderson, adding that Griffin was able to experience Moonbeams nine of the ten nights of his stay. “It allowed him to focus on something other than medications and lab tests.”
The fire trucks, ambulances and police cars that joined the show were among his favorites.
“One night the firefighters brought a ladder right outside his window,” Anderson said. “He thought that was great. The show of support from the community meant so much to both of us.”
As recently as November, Moonbeams for Sweet Dreams was still just the well-intended brainchild of a compassionate, Beaumont volunteer and mom.
But by Dec. 18, upwards of 500 community members were gathering each night to help lull the children into a good night’s sleep.
“We never thought it would take off so quickly,” said Megan McClellan, the Royal mother of three and Beaumont Children's Pediatric Family Advisory Council volunteer who suggested the idea. “We started by creating an online sign-up sheet because we thought: ‘Oh no, what if there were nights when no one showed up and the kids were waiting?’”
McClellan, who’s role as a volunteer is to guide hospital staff in improving patient and family-centered care, was inspired by a similar program at a hospital in Rhode Island.
“My kids are 6, 9 and 14,” McClellan said. “We are fortunate in that we have not had to deal with extreme conditions, like cancer.
“But they have been hospitalized with their fair share of kidney infections, asthma and concussions,” McClellan added. “And it’s the weirdest feeling. When you’re in the hospital, life stops. Everyone in the world is going about their business, but you are alone in this strange bubble. To see and feel that people care makes all the difference.”
She is especially proud of the fact they were able to make it all happen with just a small group of dedicated volunteers and staff.
“Outside, it was just four or five moms, with some help from security. Inside, it was Kathleen Grobbel and the 13-member child life team, without whom, Moonbeams never would have happened,” McClellan said.
Both Grobbel and McClellan said they are amazed by the community’s willingness to embrace the effort.
“It only takes a few minutes each night, but to young patients and their families, it meant a great deal,” Grobbel said. “With the help of school groups, church groups, firefighters, carolers and businesses, we made sure our smallest patients went to bed with smiles on their faces.”
“Being part of Moonbeams has truly renewed my faith,” McClellan added. “It’s amazing to know that so many people out there want to give and care.”