Help and happiness is arriving on an adorable set of wheels at Buffalo's Oishei Children's Hospital.
Rolling through the hallways of Oishei Children’s Hospital is the newest addition to its hospitality services – the “Happy Wheels” cart. Its unique song lets families know that toys, games, toiletries, and refreshments are on the way during what can be long and unexpected hospital stays.
“Most importantly, it’s not the snack, and it’s not the refreshment they’re being given. It’s the family-like atmosphere that we’re providing,” said Sally Vincent, executive director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Western New York.
Vincent had a vision for the cart in mind for years, and worked with a design team at East Aurora-based toymaker Fisher-Price to turn it into reality.
“So as the design team was really thinking about this project from the very beginning to the very end, they were really keeping in mind a few key design principles,” explained Gary Weber, vice president of design at Fisher-Price. “We wanted this to be about mobility, about functionality and, of course, about fun.”
The cart looks like a bright white house with a red roof, with refreshments on top and a hidden drawer of everything else inside. Volunteers will add a personal touch as they make rounds with it through the hospital’s hallways.
Weber not only got to help his team unveil the cart, he got to be its first volunteer. Putting on a yellow apron, he rolled through Oishei’s imagination-themed 11th floor, visiting young patients and their families, and putting gifts in their hands.
“It’s magical, to really make a difference in somebody’s day like that,” said Weber. “Being from Fisher-Price and working with Ronald McDonald House Charities, that’s what you do. You really want to try to bring a smile to their face, and really be able to bring a bright spot to their day.”
Danielle Ullrich and her husband C.J. were in one of the hospital’s play rooms with their daughter Evelyn when Weber rolled by. Little Evelyn got a stuffed blue elephant, and her parents got some refreshments.
“With everything that she’s been through, a little bit of excitement is awesome,” said Danielle Ullrich.
“A very thoughtful touch,” added C.J. Ullrich. “And, across the board, our entire experience here has been fantastic. It’s just above and beyond, really.”
With its one-of-a-kind design, the hospital and its partners hope the cart can keep bringing smiles to the faces of families when they need it most.