2 siblings designed a heart-warming hospital gown for the sweetest reason.

Few things are as heart-wrenching as seeing a child you love get sick.

Benny, a 2-year-old who lives outside of San Francisco, has a rare form of cancer called LCH — Langerhans cell histiocytosis. Most commonly occurring in young children, LCH and can cause a host of symptoms, including pain, rashes, loss of appetite, and recurrent fevers.

Screenshot via Starlight Children's Foundation.


When Benny’s cousins, Max (10) and Ava (13), found out about his diagnosis, they were worried about what it meant for him. "I kind of felt a little sad," Max said, "because then Benny would have to keep going in the hospital constantly and keep doing surgeries and stuff."

"We didn’t know what we could do," Ava added. But they both wanted to do something to help the their little cousin on his many hospital visits.

#MyStarlightGown

When this sibling duo was told their baby cousin had cancer they wanted to help. The hospital gowns that resulted are too sweet for words. (via @Starlight Children's Foundation)

Posted by Upworthy on Thursday, April 12, 2018

The siblings designed a fun, colorful, space-themed hospital gown to make kids’ hospital experiences more bearable.

They entered their gown design in the Starlight Children’s Foundation Design-a-Gown contest. Co-founded by Steven Spielberg, the foundation focuses on improving the lives of sick children. As part of its mission to "turn a child’s pain, fear, and stress into laughter, fun, and joy," they created the contest to reimagine children’s boring hospital gowns.

As anyone who’s ever been in the hospital knows, medical gowns are notoriously ugly — and embarrassing. Traditional gowns open in the back, leaving patients little choice but to bare their butts to the world if they get out of bed. And they’re plain as rain and hardly conducive to making kids feel good about being in the hospital.

Starlight asked kids to fix all that by taking their new gown design and giving them the full kid art treatment.

Starlight’s goal with the Design-a-Gown contest was to create hospital gowns that kids actually want to wear. First, Starlight created gowns that are soft, comfortable, and tie down the side instead of the back (no more buns hanging out!). Then, they asked the public to submit designs along with stories about why they wanted to participate.

Max and Ava’s gown design was one of three finalists. The front features colorful moons, planets, shooting stars, a robot, a spaceship on the moon, and a pair of kid astronauts floating above it. Oh, and a space dog! The back shows the astronauts and dog parachuting back to Earth.  

Ava and Max's gown design, front and back. Image via Starlight Children's Foundation.

The ideas isn’t just cute; it’s also functional. Max explained that nurses can use the design to distract and entertain kids when they’re having shots or other painful or scary procedures. “The lady who’s taking the shot, she would be like ‘Oh, can you find the star?’ or something, and they’d be like ‘Oh there!’ while they’re taking the shot.”

Who wouldn't love it?

The Starlight Foundation takes things like fun gown designs seriously “because sick kids are still kids.”

Thankfully, Benny is in remission right now, but LCH is a hard disease to cure. He’ll likely have more hospital visits in his future, and anything that can make those stays more enjoyable is a big deal.

Screenshot via Starlight Children's Foundation.

Thanks to Ava, Max, and others who submitted designs to the Design-a-Gown contest, kids with serious illnesses or injuries will have a bit brighter experience with Starlight’s network of more than 700 children’s hospitals and community health partners.

Kids who are sick can use any happiness and joy we can offer them.

Note: Nope, we weren't paid to promote The Starlight Foundation — we'd tell you! We just think this is a great story about what they're doing to make the world a bit better.

True

Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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