(WHDH) — A Massachusetts college graduate’s nonprofit is helping sick children meet their favorite Disney princesses and superheroes.
Alyssa Banks launched the Princess Program Foundation — a nonprofit that sends volunteers to children’s hospitals, care centers, and therapy locations dressed up as popular Disney characters in an effort to bring joy to children who are battling illness.
“She looked up at me and she said, ‘I’ll never get to go to Disney.’ It broke my heart but it also planted a seed in my imagination to bring Disney to children like her,” Banks said of the moment that inspired her to launch the program.
What started as a passion project in 2017 has since expanded into an organization that spends countless hours making children smile.
Banks says volunteers have visited more than 4,000 kids at places likes Tufts Medical Center and Boston Children’s Hospital.
“It’s the most heartwarming, special experience to see how their face lights up when the character walks into the room,” Banks said. “The parents even pull us aside afterward and they’re like, ‘Thank you, I haven’t seen my daughter smile in months.'”
Jocelyn, a 3-year-old girl living with brain cancer, recently got to interact with Ariel from “The Little Mermaid” on a Zoom call.
“Beforehand we kind of talked about what Jocelyn’s favorite things were, so she read her books, they sang songs together, they blew bubbles, and just kind of hung out and did all of Jocelyn’s favorite thing,” the girl’s mother said.
Banks says building the nonprofit has been a rewarding experience.
“These kids are incredibly resilient and strong, and just the fact that we get to bring them a moment of relief and the parent a moment of relief is the greatest power in the world,” Banks said. “That’s why this has become my entire life.”
Banks added that donations are much needed right now due to the impacts of the pandemic.
“We’re suffering really bad with donations right not because of COVID and not being able to do in-person fundraisers,” Banks said.
To make a donation, click here.
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