Stars Spread a Little Holiday Cheer
Wednesday, 12.24.2008 / 2:00 PM / Feature
By Erin Chenderlin
The parade, which started in 1988, brings crowds of more than 350,000 people out to the streets of downtown Dallas and is seen in syndication on more than 350 TV stations across the country. The parade is a major fundraiser for the Child Life department at the Children’s Medical Center. Children from the Medical Center are featured all throughout the parade.
“To see all the kids out there and all the families was great,” Turco said. “We thought it was going to be a little bit colder, but once we got on the float and in the presence of some special kids, seeing that many people come out to the streets, it warmed us very quickly.”
After the parade, the Stars players met up with the rest of their teammates at First Baptist Dallas Church, where the Stars had arranged a lunch for the children who rode in the parade, and their families. The kids did not know the Stars would be joining them, so the team’s appearance was a pleasant surprise for the more than 250 people in attendance. The team walked around and visited with the families, signed autographs and took pictures for more than an hour.
Many of the 60+ children who participated in the parade and attended the lunch are terminally ill, and the community and the Dallas Stars wanted to do their part to ensure they had a wonderful Christmas.
“These kids are going through some tough times, as well as their families. I have two children myself, and to see these kids going through so much pain and anguish, and just the uncertainty of the future … to be able to bring smiles and happiness toward them means the world to me,” said Stars right wing Landon Wilson. “It really makes you think how special and how blessed we truly are.”
Other participants in the parade, Spider-Man and Iron Man, also made an appearance at the lunch, as did Hello Kitty. It was quickly realized that many of the young patients were much more impressed with Spider-Man than they were with hockey players.
“That’s OK,” Wilson said, and smiled. “Whatever makes them happy and helps them enjoy life, that’s all that matters. They may have taken some of the spot light away from us [laughed] but that’s totally fine. It’s all in the best interest of the kids.”
Smiles could be seen throughout the room, as players mingled among the families and footage from the parade aired on a projection screen in the background. The smiles radiated not just from the patients and family members, but from all the players, as well. Cheers erupted as the children saw themselves and their friends on TV, and the Dallas Stars float received the loudest applause of all.
“To see the smiles on their faces just means the world to us,” Wilson said. “In their eyes, it makes them forget about what they’re going through. You could tell they were enjoying the whole experience, and that meant the world to me.”
“These people shed some perspective and warmth into our lives, and hopefully we can at least put smiles on their faces for a few short hours,” Turco said. “It’s all very well worth it. I wouldn’t have traded that day for anything.”