Starlight Children's Foundation

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Starlight Children's Foundation
Formation 1982
Type Non-profit organization
Purpose Children's charity
Headquarters Los Angeles, California
Region served
US, Canada, Australia and the UK
Mission Starlight creates moments of joy and comfort for hospitalized kids and their families.[1]

Starlight Children’s Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded in 1982 to bring joy and comfort for hospitalized kids and their families.

Starlight programs offer entertainment, education and technology to critically, chronically and terminally ill children. These programs are provided directly to children through Starlight’s network of more than 700 children’s hospitals and other community health partners throughout North America. Starlight’s US operations are based in Los Angeles, California.[2] The charity has provided support to more than 60 million children in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK where it has additional office locations and programs.[3]

Starlight in the US has several proprietary programs, including Starlight Brave Gowns, which are brightly-colored gowns that make sick kids feel like superstars, and Starlight Sites, which are kid-friendly indoor and outdoor hospital rooms, gardens and treatment facilities that provide kids and families a safe and relaxing place.[4]


Starlight Children's Foundation was founded in 1982 by actors Peter Samuelson and Emma Samms, who was inspired by her brother's death, at age 8, from aplastic anemia.[2] Steven Spielberg serves as the organization’s Chairman Emeritus.[3] Starlight's current CEO is Christopher Helfrich, who has held the position since November 1, 2016. Helfrich spent five years at the UN Foundation at the helm of Nothing But Nets, the world’s largest global, grassroots campaign to defeat malaria.[4]


Starlight creates moments of joy and comfort to hospitalized kids and their families through a number of programs such as Starlight Virtual Reality, Starlight Star Visits, Starlight Brave Gowns, Starlight Fun Centers and Starlight Sites.

Starlight Virtual Reality[edit]

Starlight Virtual Reality is a program that will entertain, educate and inspire the imagination of thousands of hospitalized young patients across the US. Star Wars: Force for Change is the program’s Founding Sponsor, with additional funding from Niagara Cares and VR technology powered by Google. The program will roll out in late 2017 and Starlight will start distributing the program to Starlight’s network of children’s hospitals and other health facilities across the US.[5]

Starlight Star Visits[edit]

Starlight Star Visits offer kids and families an opportunity to meet some of their favorite actors, entertainers, athletes and characters. Past Starlight Star Visits include: Mark Hamill, Jamie Lee Curtis,[6] Terri Hatcher,[7] Bailee Madison, Alyson Hannigan, Vince Biegel and Alex Lange.

Starlight Brave Gowns[edit]

Launched in November 2016, Starlight Brave Gowns are high-quality, comfortable and brightly colored hospital gowns that replace unattractive, uncomfortable and embarrassing hospital garments.[8] Michaels, North America’s largest arts and crafts specialty retailer is Starlight's launch partner and designed the first 10 inaugural gowns as well as donated 10,000 initial gowns. Originally conceived by entrepreneur and philanthropist Summer Germann to honor her 10-year-old brother who died from pediatric cancer in 2002, Starlight Brave Gowns are made for boys and girls ages 2 through 12. Made in the USA, the gowns are manufactured to meet strict hospital infection and safety protocols, and are specially designed to allow for easy access to heart monitors as well as IVs on both sleeves.[8]

Starlight Fun Centers[edit]

Starlight teamed up with Nintendo in 1992 to build Starlight Fun Center mobile entertainment units and install them in hospitals.[9] Starlight and Nintendo have continued this program since, with 1,000 Starlight Nintendo Fun Center units installed by the end of 1995.[9] A unit containing Wii technology customized for hospital use was brought out in 2008.[10] The units carry family-friendly Wii games and a DVD player[11] - serving as a distraction to brighten moods and boost kid's morale during hospital stays.[12]

Starlight Sites[edit]

In partnership with corporate donors, Starlight solicits grants to fund Starlight Sites, which are renovations to children's hospital treatment rooms designed to make kids more comfortable during procedures.[13] The aim is to distract children from pain and anxiety, thereby improving their experience and making procedures easier for doctors and nurses to carry out.[14] Sites can also take the form of teen lounges and kid's playrooms, designed for chronically ill kids facing long stays in the hospital.[15]

Product Philanthropy[edit]

Launched in 2013, this online marketplace is offered to 700 children’s hospitals and other health partners across the US. The marketplace offers donated products and services from companies such as Disney, Radio Flyer Inc. and other brands.[16]

Legacy Programs[edit]

Starbright World[edit]

The first-ever private social network, started in 1995 by filmmaker and Chairman Emeritus Steven Spielberg, Peter Samuelson and Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr.[17] It served to connect chronically ill teenagers with life-threatening medical conditions, and their siblings,[18][19] in a safe, online community where they could chat, blog, post content, and meet others who shared similar experiences.[20] Starbright World was taken offline on August 31, 2015.

Awards and Accomplishments[edit]

In 2016, Starlight earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator.[21] Starlight is a gold-level GuideStar participant.[22] Starlight is a CharityWatch Top Rated non-profit with an A rating.[23]

Celebrity Support[edit]

Community Partners[edit]

Starlight partners with nearly 700 children's hospitals, hospice centers, outpatient homes and rehabilitation centers nationwide, including:

Corporate Partners and Collaborators[edit]

Starlight partners with world-class brands and companies, charitable foundations, organizations and socially aware groups, and philanthropic individuals. Below are a list of a few corporate partners:


  1. ^ Starlight
  2. ^ "Dynasty’s Emma Samms: My brother’s death made me start Starlight Foundation" Metro UK. May 29, 2013.
  3. ^ "Starlight Children's Foundation | CP Family Network". Retrieved 2017-06-01. 
  4. ^ "Christopher Helfrich Joins Starlight Children's Foundation as New Chief Executive Officer". PRWeb. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  5. ^ "Lucasfilm to Bring 'Star Wars' Virtual Reality Headsets to Hospitals for Kids (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2017-06-01. 
  6. ^ " - Jamie Lee Curtis brings 'Starlight' to sick children". Retrieved 2017-06-01. 
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  8. ^ a b c "Starlight Children's Foundation Launches Program to Revolutionize Children's Hospital Gowns". PRWeb. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  9. ^ a b "Quick Hits". GamePro. No. 88. IDG. January 1996. p. 23. 
  10. ^ "Starlight Starbright Wii Fun Center rolls right up to hospitalized children, not your lazy ass" Engadget. August 26, 2008.
  11. ^ "KC Royals wins mean wins for KC charities" Kansas City Business Journal. October 27, 2014.
  12. ^ "Nintendo Hooks Up Hospitalized Kids With Wii Fun Centers Kotaku. June 24, 2008.
  13. ^ "Taking the dark and scary out of Elmhurst Hospital" The Queens Courier. March 9, 2011.
  14. ^ "Starlight Children's Foundation NY*NJ*CT Unveils New Care Room at the Joseph M. Sanzari Children's Hospital" The Paramus Post. January 21, 2015.
  15. ^ "Boston Medical Center Officially Opens Toys 'R' Us Children's Fund-Starlight Site" BU Public Relations. April 3, 2006.
  16. ^ "St. Mary's, Miller Children's Hospital Request Donations Through Charity Wish Lists" Long Beach Post. December 12, 2014.
  17. ^ a b “Breaking Bad’s RJ Mitte To Be Honored By Starlight Children’s Foundation” Look To The Stars: The World of Celebrity Giving. July 2, 2014.
  18. ^ "Georgetown Men's Basketball Helps Starlight Children's Foundation Grant Wish" Hoya Athletics. June 27, 2014.
  19. ^ "Social Network Connects Kids, Teens With Special Needs" CBS Los Angeles. October 19, 2012.
  20. ^ "Live to Give" Vancouver Canucks News. November 20, 2009.
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  22. ^ "Starlight Children's Foundation - GuideStar Profile". Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  23. ^ "Starlight Children's Foundation (National Office) | Charity Ratings | America's Most Independent Charity Watchdog | CharityWatch". Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
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  27. ^ "Stars Design Charity T-Shirts For Starlight Children's Foundation". Look to the Stars. 2009-12-23. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
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  29. ^ a b "Penelope Cruz And Donatella Versace To Host Charity Gala". Look to the Stars. 2009-07-10. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  30. ^ "Exclusive Interview With Hayley Hasselhoff". Look to the Stars. 2009-05-20. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  31. ^ "Starlight Children's Foundation Hosts Dream Halloween 2016". Look to the Stars. 2016-10-28. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  32. ^ "Paris Hilton To Attend A Stellar Night Of Charity". Look to the Stars. 2011-03-25. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  33. ^ "Steven Spielberg To Be Awarded 2014 Lincoln Leadership Prize". Look to the Stars. 2014-01-29. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  34. ^ a b "Teri Hatcher And Tony DiTerlizzi Entertain Pediatric Patients At Children's Hospital Los Angeles". Look to the Stars. 2014-05-07. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  35. ^ "CHOC Children's Celebrates Starlight Fun Center Donation - CHOC Children's Blog". CHOC Children's Blog. 2010-07-15. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  36. ^ "Yoobi & Starlight Children's Foundation Give Event - Children's Hospital Los Angeles". Getty Images. Retrieved 2017-06-01. 
  37. ^ "Kids at LAC+USC Enjoy a VGo Robot | VGo robotic telepresence for healthcare, education and business". Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  38. ^ Albin, Amy. "Young patients can now relax in newly remodeled teen lounge". UCLA Newsroom. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  39. ^ a b c GI Editors (2013-11-20). "Insomniac Games Partners with Starlight Children's Foundation Granting Hospital Wishes". Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  40. ^ a b "A 'Star Wars' Surprise: Mark Hamill Shocks Kids At Florida Children's Hospital". Inside Edition. Retrieved 2017-06-02. 
  41. ^ "Niagara Bottling donates $100,000 to Grady Hospital". The Newnan Times-Herald. Retrieved 2017-06-01. 
  42. ^ "Rolling out fun". Massachusetts General Hospital. Retrieved 2017-06-01. 
  43. ^ a b Foundation, Starlight Children's. "Colgate-Palmolive Awards Starlight Fun Centers(TM) to Hospitals Through Online Contest". Retrieved 2017-06-01. 
  44. ^ a b c "Nintendo and Starlight Children's Foundation Deliver More Fun to Hospitalized Children in Washington State | Business Wire". Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  45. ^ "Disney Salutes Starlight Children'S Foundation'S 20Th Anniversary - The Walt Disney Company". The Walt Disney Company. 2003-02-20. Retrieved 2017-06-02. 
  46. ^ "The Joy in Childhood Foundation℠ Announces Three Million Dollar Commitment to Starlight Children's Foundation and Feeding America®". MNN - Mother Nature Network. Retrieved 2017-06-02. 
  47. ^ Staff, WCPO (2015-07-12). "MLB, Reds team up to help with renovations at Children's Hospital". WCPO. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  48. ^ "ETMC Trinity pediatric patients benefit from wagon donation - ETMC". ETMC. Retrieved 2017-06-02. 

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