Project Pinball Charity donates limited-edition pinball machine to Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands

By: Texas Children's Hospital The Woodlands
| Published 07/23/2019

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THE WOODLANDS, TX -- On January 18, Project Pinball Charity donated a limited edition pinball machine to Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands to help entertain and ease the minds of patients and their families.

Project Pinball is a non-profit charity organization that places pinball machines in children’s hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses to introduce therapeutic benefits to kids in a unique, fun, and engaging way.

“It is a distraction for children who want to get their mind off of being in the hospital, but also an opportunity to do something that gets you on your feet instead of staying on the bed or chair playing video games and watching television,” Manager of Emergency Management, Aaron Freedkin said. “Beyond that, therapeutically this machine can help with standing balance, hand-eye coordination, and building relationships between the patient and Child Life Specialists when they interact with each other on two-player games.”

The initial impulse behind this gift derived from Freedkin’s passion for both the Texas Children’s mission and playing pinball. After learning about Project Pinball Charity, he initiated contact and was ecstatic to find out that they would be able to donate a machine to Texas Children’s Hospital. From there, he managed the project with the charity. With additional help from a local arcade business, The Game Preserve, the community helped raise enough money for Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands to be the first hospital in Houston to receive this generous gift.

After about a 10-minute assembly process, representatives from Project Pinball Charity and The Game Preserve officially dedicated the new addition to the third floor Child Life Teen Room.

When asked why this donation was important to be a part of, Rusty Key, co-owner of The Game Preserve, pointed to the patients walking into the room to see the new game and said emotionally, “That is the reason. Just seeing their faces light up is why I work so hard to give back to the community.”

As a frequent pinball player in his spare time, 16-year-old patient Bobby Reeder made his way to be the first person to try the new pinball machine out.

“Before coming here, I didn’t know that the hospital even had one of these rooms, Reeder said. “I was so excited when I found out there was going to be a pinball machine.”

Project Pinball will maintain ownership of the machine when it comes to maintenance and will also train employees on simple repairs if necessary. Their dedication to providing patients with new therapeutic benefits and overall entertainment in the hospital is expected to expand to Texas Children’s West Campus and other hospitals in Houston.

The organization’s Senior Founder and Director, Daniel Spolar, expressed that his joy and passion towards donating to children’s’ hospitals is due to his own personal experience when his son was hospitalized.

“I know first-hand how it can be for children in these situations while my son was going through treatments. I want to do whatever I can to help ease their minds in the hospital while enjoying something that I can relate to,” Spolar said. “We are a grassroots company out of Florida whose purpose is to give back to the community, and we are excited to be able to expand to Texas Children’s Hospital.”

Texas Children’s Hospital has created Child Life activity spaces at each hospital to provide a fun, safe and procedure-free environment for our inpatient population and their families. The majority of the toys and gaming systems available for patients are generously donated from many community organizations. The latest donation serves as a new way for patients to have enjoyable activities during their stay.

“We are excited to have this new addition to our teen room! It is important for us to help patients cope and decrease any anxiety they may have, Child Life Specialist Amy Malespin said. “This pinball machine is yet another unique method of distraction for both patients and their families.”

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