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Niswonger Children's Hospital's Spooky Trail gives patients a chance to trick-or-treat

Brandon Paykamian • Updated Oct 31, 2017 at 8:56 PM

For some children with debilitating health issues and disabilities, taking part in the Halloween tradition of trick-or-treating can be tough. 

But at Niswonger Children’s Hospital, team members and volunteers throughout the community gather every Halloween to help make sure pediatric patients aren’t excluded from the holiday festivities through their Spooky Trail event, where patients get a chance to trick-or-treat throughout the hospital.

The event, now in its seventh year, has allowed patients like Ellee Large a chance to forget about her treatments for a moment and focus on Halloween. It’s little things like this that help brighten Ellee’s day, said her mother, Shauna Large.

Though Ellee was shy at first, she, like most of the children at Niswonger, certainly wasn’t shy about the prospect of free candy. 

“It means a lot,” Large said of the annual event. “Just to see her smile, get excited and have something to look forward to is a blessing.” 

Amanda Ward, Niswonger’s child life manager, said the staff and community’s involvement in the annual event helps children like Elle feel normal during the holiday. For kids who otherwise might not have a chance to trick-or-treat like most of their peers, many of the departments in the Johnson City Medical Center and members of the community, such as the Tennessee Highway Patrol, come to help provide that sense of normalcy. 

“It is pure normalization in their lives, and we are so happy we get to bring that to them. Halloween is a lot of kids’ favorite holiday in the entire year, and we don’t want them to get left out on this holiday,” Ward said. “We’ve been able to provide some costumes for them from outside donors, so everyone gets to dress up, be a kid and forget about all the yucky medicine and other things that happen at the hospital.” 

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