Mary Poppins

December 18 - January 3
Buskirk-Chumley Theater

Hospital Visit

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Cardinal actors offer a ‘Spoonful of Sugar’ to kids in hospital

By Marcela Creps  – Herald-Times, Dec. 15

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For children, Christmas means trips to visit family, an opportunity to meet Santa Claus or learning the real words to “Jingle Bells.” Unfortunately, for some kids, holiday time includes a visit to the hospital.

a hospitalIn the pediatric ward of IU Health Bloomington Hospital, two small signs outside the game room offer a countdown to Christmas. On this day, 11 days before Christmas, there are only three kids in the ward.

A Christmas tree is decorated next to a light-up R2-D2 wearing a Santa hat. Inside the game room are lots of new toys — dolls, a velvet art set, stuffed animals, a Star Wars Mr. Potato Head, books and puzzles.

Tracy Walden, a pediatric day shift charge nurse, said each child who is admitted to the hospital gets to choose a toy — regardless of whether it’s Christmas or not.

“We have a toy drive going on in the hospital right now,” she said.

During the year, there are special visitors who will try to brighten the lives of the youngest patients. On Monday, actors Elaine Cotter and Reid Henderson are visiting the children. Cotter and Henderson are portraying Mary Poppins and Bert in Cardinal Stage Company’s upcoming holiday production.

Dressed in costume, the duo draw a lot of attention as they make their way through the hospital. They start by visiting 5-year-old Ronny Troxel of Springville, although the young patient was more excited to finally get to eat after having surgery in the morning.

The two also visit with 2-year-old Bentlee Byrum.

“Hi, Bentlee. How are you doing?” Cotter asks when she enters the room.

Cotter and Henderson then sing part of “A Spoonful of Sugar” — an appropriate song for the occasion.

The two then make their way onto the obstetrics ward, where nurse Jenny Byrd seems eager to meet the two actors.

“The adults get more excited than the kids,” Cotter remarks.

“Oh, wow! I love Mary. I love ‘Mary Poppins,’” Byrd said, later posing for a photo with the two.

As the obstetrics staff make their way out to see Mary and Bert, 7-year-old Riley Elizabeth Williams stands quietly nearby. She’s gotten an early Christmas gift — a little sister. Wearing her big sister T-shirt, Riley is familiar with “Mary Poppins.” She’s seen the film and likes the music.a2 hospital

A small crowd gathers while Cotter and Henderson sing part of “Chim Chim Cher-ee” before taking more photos with the staff. Riley finally gets a chance to meet the actors, who ask her what her favorite song is from the musical.

“All of them,” she said, before the actors sing “A Spoonful of Sugar.”

The visitors seemed to be a hit with the staff and patients. It’s a good time of the year to spread holiday cheer, and with the toy donations, that cheer will be spread throughout the year to help kids have a positive hospital experience.

The toy supply drops during the year, but if there isn’t an age-appropriate gift, Walden said, staff members think nothing of running down to the hospital gift shop to buy something. But for now, the shelves are full of lots of options.

“It’s awesome, and our toy room is bursting at the seams,” Walden said.