Golisano Children’s Hospital patients get break from reality with toy cars

Published: August 23, 2022 5:22 PM EDT
Updated: August 23, 2022 5:32 PM EDT

Golisano Children’s Hospital teamed up with local businesses to bring kid-sized Mustangs, Broncos and Mercedes for them to drive around the hospital.

It was a gift not just for the children but for their parents too.

Amy Burge would do anything to hear and see her son happy every day.

“Days like today are amazing,” Burge said. “They fill Owen up with smiles.”

Four-year-old Owen is all smiles.

And right now, he’s got enough energy to power all of new kids at Golisano Children’s Hospital.

It’s not every day that Owen is energetic. Two years ago, doctors diagnosed him with leukemia.

“It felt like there was no way that it was my kid that was going to be sick for two years,” Burge said. “There’s no way that he had a life-threatening illness. There was no way that it was my kid. But it was.”

Burge missed a lot of the fun moments.

But the cars, delivered by a semi-truck on Tuesday, helped mom and son make up for the lost time. In addition to creating moments of happiness, the cars are also used to help pediatric patients reduce stress and anxiety for children going back to the operating room.

Owen and other pediatric patients undergo four-wheel drive therapy through the Child Life Department. Driving cars works on the mind and helps the body.

Golisano Children’s Hospital brought toy cars to help its pediatric patients. (CREDIT: WINK News)

“These cars can be a great way to, you know, put a smile on their face or they get to do something exciting and fun throughout their day, maybe they’ve had some hard tests or procedures and this can be something that they can look forward to and can help their mood and can help their overall healing,” said Tracey Failla, child life specialist at Golisano Children’s Hospital. “The Child Life Department as a whole, we try to provide ways for some distraction, some positive experiences that they can have while they’re here in the hospital. These cars can be a great way to, you know, put a smile on their face.”

For Burge, it’s everything to see him happy.

“Anytime there’s a scary procedure that they’re facing or anytime that something can be trying for them, they can jump in the car and go there instead of walking and worrying down the hallway. They can just drive there and have fun instead and not have to worry about what’s coming,” Burge said. “To see him play like a normal kid, I mean he’s a normal kid, you know, but playing like he’s not sick because he is not for these few minutes, he’s not.”

Some good news for Owen and his family: He should be receiving his last chemo treatment at the end of the month.

Doctors hope he’ll be in remission in early September.

The seven cars are a permanent fixture at the hospital. Local businesses paid for them and their names are proudly on the side of each one.