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Healthcare

‘Spirit of Children’ Brings Halloween to Logan Children’s Hospital, Supports Child Life Programs

The third annual Spirit Halloween fundraiser has already collected thousands of dollars for pediatric hospital patients and their families

By Denali Sagner
Patient Cash Norwalt, right, and his brother Leo wear their Halloween costumes at Logan Health Children’s on Oct. 13, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

At this Halloween celebration, the party planners’ goal is to make things a lot “less scary.”

Patients at Logan Health Children’s hospital and their families on Oct. 13 received a visit from Kalispell’s Spirit Halloween costume store for the third annual Spirit of Children event, which collects costumes for hospitalized children and raises money for the hospital’s child life program. As young patients chose from a wide array of Halloween costumes and accessories, parents and hospital administrators expressed gratitude for the exciting diversion and the community-wide generosity that made it possible.

Cash Norwalt sat awaiting pre-operative tests when Spirit Halloween Kalispell Manager Steve Lerum wheeled a costume rack into his hospital room. With his younger brother, Leo, in tow, Cash picked out a hot dog costume, with Leo opting for the Flash’s iconic red suit. As the two ran through the halls of the children’s wing, their parents, who drove the family down from Great Falls for the procedure, voiced appreciation for the joy the program brought.

“Being in the hospital and having anything done is scary,” Nina Norwalt, Cash and Leo’s mother, told the Beacon.

Cody Norwalt, the boys’ father, said “it’s a good distraction” from the reality of the hospital setting.

According to Carly Rickard, chief development officer at Montana Children’s, the “distraction” is the exact goal of the Spirit Halloween program and of the hospital’s child life program at large. Children who come into the hospital have often never been to a hospital before, or have traumatic memories from previous hospital visits, Rickard said. The goal of the child life program, which Spirit Halloween raises money for each year, is to help children cope with difficult emotions while they are in the hospital, to bring some normalcy to their inpatient experience and to help them heal quickly so they can return home. Child life donations go towards toys, games, comfort items and the hiring of specialized child life staff members, which are not covered by traditional funding sources and are “so important to the work that we do,” Rickard said.

“This is really just an annual event that we look forward to as staff because, for once, when we’re knocking on the door and going into the room, it’s not to deliver medical news or to do a procedure, but instead to just give away costumes and bring a little bit of joy to our families,” she added.

This year, Spirit Halloween’s Kalispell location has already collected dozens of costumes and raised over $8,000 for Logan Health Children’s, putting the store well on its way to its $10,000 goal, Lerum said. The Missoula location, which also raises money for Logan, is “on its way” to reaching its $15,000 goal.

Without a doubt, the “generosity of people that are in the Flathead Valley” has helped the Kalispell store near its goal so quickly, Lerum said.

Those looking to support the Spirit of Children program can make a donation at the register at Spirit Halloween’s Kalispell or Missoula location. Donations can also always be made to Logan Children’s child life fund at www.logan.org/foundation/make-a-donation.

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