FORT MYERS, Fla. – With flashing cameras and a red carpet fit for Hollywood, the atrium of Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida was transformed into a glamorous setting for the Spring Bling event held Saturday evening with the help of FGCU student-athletes.
The annual occasion gives children fighting illness an opportunity to take a night off from doctors and hospital rooms to feel like a star, as paparazzi snap photos while fans cheer and ask for autographs. It is made possible through a combined effort from everyone at Golisano Children’s Hospital, the United Way, For the Kids Foundation and FGCU’s student-athletes.
Participating in the event for the fourth year, members of the Green and Blue spent time mingling with the children of Golisano as they enjoyed an exciting night.
“The night is filled with fun and games, laughter and ‘bling,” FGCU student-athlete services assistant Lindsey Burr said. “Our student-athletes cheer on the kids as they walk down the red carpet to kick the night off. There is hair and make-up done by students from Paul Mitchell, face painting, balloon art, a photo booth, a craft station, games, a snow cone truck and a DJ set up throughout the atrium and at the main entrance of the hospital.”
For the past five years member of the local community have cheered on FGCU women’s basketball senior Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane HS), but Saturday it was Hansen’s turn to become a supportive fan.
“It was really eye-opening to see all these children who have to spent their childhood in a hospital attached to monitors and IVs, but who were still able to smile and laugh and really enjoy life like a regular kid,” Hansen said of the night. “The Spring Bling is such a great event not only for the children, but for us as volunteers to put life into perspective. We can learn from the amazing attitudes of the kids who just want to have a night to be normal, and we had the opportunity to help them experience it. We helped make their night special, and whenever you have an opportunity to do something special for people or kids who really deserve it, I definitely think you should take the opportunity.”
Spring Bling was the first event of its kind in Southwest Florida when it originated in 2010, and was the vision of former women’s tennis coach Jennifer Gabou. With the help of many entities, her dream became a reality and has been going strong for the past five years.