Children hospitalized in Edinburg treated to Halloween costume party

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A staff member of Spirit Halloween paints a patient’s face at South Texas Health System Children’s in Edinburg on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023. (South Texas Health System Photo)

EDINBURG — Meredith Gaspar’s week didn’t start off as planned.

The 10-year-old Hidalgo resident learned Monday that she had been diagnosed with diabetes and needed to be hospitalized.

By Wednesday, with little to do and wanting an activity to keep her mind occupied, relief came in the form of a treat.

South Texas Health System Children’s in partnership with Spirit Halloween hosted its inaugural Spirit Halloween Party that Wednesday, where Meredith and other kids who had been hospitalized there got a chance to pick out costumes, get their face painted and participate in various arts and crafts activities.

This is an addition to Spirit Halloween’s charity, Spirit of Children, which has worked in partnership with the Auxiliary to STHS — the healthcare system’s volunteers — and the hospital for the past five years. Throughout the partnership the company has raised nearly $200,000 through in-store sales and donations at their Rio Grande Valley locations.

Part of the proceeds are donated to the Auxiliary, which helps fund the hospital’s Child Life Department.

For Kimberly Davis, pediatric administrator at STHS Children’s, the pre-Halloween celebration allowed their patients to get a sense of normalcy and feel like a kid.

“When children are sick, they don’t stop being kids,” Davis said in a news release. “They love to play, and they want to have a good time. Events like this one help them feel normal by getting to participate in fun activities that other kids get to do outside of the hospital setting; it serves as a distraction from the monotony of spending hours in a hospital room and helps lift their spirits, which is an important part of the healing process.”

Throughout the event the kids got a chance to decorate Halloween themed ornaments and received an activity book and crayons provided by Spirit Halloween along with goodie bags from the Auxiliary.

Meredith was among the patients who participated in Wednesday’s activities and described it as an escape from being cooped up in her room.

A patient reads at South Texas Health System Children’s in Edinburg during a Spirit Halloween event Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023. (South Texas Health System Photo)

“I was pretty bored in my room so I wanted to do something, and then they told me that (there was a party) so I was pretty excited,” Meredith said.

According to Meredith’s mom, Cynthia Govea, 37, the young girl arrived at the hospital on Monday where she was later diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

For Cynthia, the hospital gave her daughter a much-needed distraction.

“The event from yesterday (Wednesday) was a big surprise for her and it kept her mind clear from that episode,” Cynthia said. “I really did appreciate it for her because she needed to get it (diagnosis) out of her mind.”

Throughout the party, Meredith got to talk to some of the Disney princesses, otherwise known as the Spirit Halloween staff dressed as pop culture characters.

For Meredith, the highlight of the event was getting interviewed by hospital staff and getting a chance to pick out her Halloween costume that was donated by Spirit Halloween and Spirit of Children.

After careful examination, Meredith chose a witch costume she will turn into a DIY project.

“I wanted to be Maleficent to match with my cousin, so I’m going to turn that witch costume into a Maleficent costume because it looks like it,” Meredith said, adding that her cousin is going to be Aurora from “Sleeping Beauty” this Halloween.

Not only was she able to pick out a costume for herself, Meredith also picked out a costume for her 5-year-old brother, Oliver.

“He has been crying that he misses us,” Cynthia said, adding that Meredith had picked out a clown mask for her brother.

A patient reacts Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023, when South Texas Health System Children’s in Edinburg together with Spirit Halloween held an event at the hospital. (South Texas Health System Photo)

Meredith, who was being released Thursday afternoon, was excited to return home and surprise her brother with his new costume.

The Halloween party wasn’t the only spooky season activity the hospital has hosted.

In fact earlier this month the children’s hospital got a visit from Spider-Man, Batman and even McDonald’s The Hamburglar during their Superhero Day, which was sponsored by the Auxiliary in partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities of South Texas.

Throughout the month the hospital will also be hosting Art Days in partnership with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s art department, a UTRGV Athletes Night and various trick-or-treating events.