Starlight Children’s Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to delivering happiness to kids in hospitals, partnered with Ryan’s World to donate and personally deliver toys and games to pediatric patients at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children.
“Ryan’s World” is a YouTube channel for parents and kids with over 32 million subscribers, featuring family-friendly videos of YouTube star Ryan Kaji and his family and other animated characters in the Ryan’s World universe like Combo Panda and Gus the Gummy Gator.
The 10-year-old YouTuber and his parents, Shion and Loann Kaji, along with Christine Soldner, senior director of corporate development at Starlight Children’s Foundation, visited some patients in the hospital’s playroom and classroom, engaging them with coloring and play activities and distributing Starlight backpacks filled with Ryan’s World toys and games.
The Kaji family delivered plenty of backpacks to the Kapiolani Medical Center so that all the patients in the hospital received one. In addition, each pack contained a card printed with a quick response (QR) code, providing access to a special message from Ryan when scanned with a phone.
“I’m glad my parents and I got to visit the hospital and share all these toys and games with the patients, and I hope they get to enjoy them as much as I do,” said Ryan Kaji. “I love making people happy and smile, so it was awesome seeing all of that today.”
The young patients were excited to receive the donated Starlight backpacks filled with Ryan’s World toys and games and enjoyed watching his digital message accessible through the QR code.
Soldner said, “We are so grateful for the partnership with Ryan and the Ryan’s World team in helping us deliver moments of joy and happiness to kids who are coping with illnesses. Moments like this today can be transformative for the patients, helping reduce the stress of hospitalization while improving their wellbeing and healing process. They forget why they’re here, and they get to have fun and play games with Ryan.”
According to Soldner, Starlight deliveries like this one today and other programs – including Starlight Gaming, Starlight Virtual Reality, and modernized Starlight Hospital Wear, among many others – are offered to its network of 800 U.S. pediatric facility partners through the organization’s online platform, the Starlight Hub, free of charge. Kapiolani Medical Center has been a Starlight partner for almost 14 years.
“As Hawaii’s only full-service children’s hospital, Kapiolani is dedicated to all aspects of a child’s care. This includes not only the highest level of medical treatment, but also providing support, encouragement and opportunities for kids to just be kids, during what is often challenging times,” said Gidget Ruscetta, chief operating officer of Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children. “Strong partners such as Ryan’s World and Starlight Children’s Foundation are essential for making this possible.”
Kapiolani also focuses on social and emotional needs for hospitalized children and their parents through its Child Life program. Specialists are certified in disciplines ranging from childhood development and education to complementary healing modalities. They work with kids, throughout Hawaii and the Pacific region, to support learning and cognitive development, help them understand their illness through play, and create fun and supportive activities including pet therapy visits, music therapy, movie matinees, arts and crafts and more.
Now based in Honolulu, the Kaji family started their YouTube channel in 2015, then called “Ryan ToysReview,” when Shion and Loann began making videos of Ryan opening boxes and reviewing toys. It didn’t take long for a video to go viral and within months, subscribers surged, and the Kajis quit their day jobs to focus on creating inspiring and fun content that has resonated with people across the globe.
Today, the family has 10 total YouTube channels under Ryan’s World with videos that continue to make families and kids happy with the variety of content it offers, such as science experiments, skits, family challenges, cartoon animations and much more.
Starlight and Ryan’s World plan to continue the partnership in helping bring more smiles to hospitalized kids across the country.