Starlight Children's Foundation

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Starlight Children's Foundation
Motto Starlight Children's Foundation brightens the lives of seriously ill children.[1]
Formation 1982
Type Non-profit organization
Purpose Children's charity
Headquarters Los Angeles, California
Region served

Starlight Children’s Foundation, founded in 1982, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to brighten the lives of seriously ill children and their families.

Starlight programs offer entertainment, education and technology to critically, chronically and terminally ill children. These programs are provided directly to children through Starlight’s network of more than 800 children’s hospitals and other community health partners throughout North America. Starlight’s US operations are based in Los Angeles, California.[2] The charity has provided support to more than 60 million children in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK where it has additional office locations and programs.[3]

Starlight in the US has several proprietary programs, including Starlight Brave Gowns which are brightly-colored gowns that make sick kids feel like superstars, and Starlight Sites which are kid-friendly indoor and outdoor hospital rooms, gardens and treatment facilities that provide kids and families a safe and relaxing place.[4]


Starlight Children's Foundation was founded in 1982 by Peter Samuelson and Emma Samms, who was inspired by her brother's death, at age 8, from aplastic anemia.[2] Steven Spielberg serves as the organization’s Chairman Emeritus. From 2010-2015, Jacquie Hart was recruited as CEO.[3] Starlight's current CEO is Christopher Helfrich who assumed leadership on Nov. 1, 2016. Helfrich spent five years at the UN Foundation at the helm of Nothing But Nets, the world’s largest global, grassroots campaign to defeat malaria.[4]


Starlight focuses on brightening the lives of seriously ill children through a number of programs such as Starlight Fun Centers, Star Visits, Starlight Sites and Starlight Brave Gowns.

Starlight Brave Gowns[edit]

Launched November 2016, Starlight Brave Gowns are high-quality, comfortable and brightly colored hospital gowns that replace unattractive, uncomfortable and embarrassing hospital garments.[5] Michaels, North America’s largest arts and crafts specialty retailer is Starlight's launch partner and designed the first 10 inaugural gowns as well as donated 10,000 initial gowns. Originally conceived by entrepreneur and philanthropist Summer Germann to honor her 10-year-old brother who died from pediatric cancer in 2002, Starlight Brave Gowns are made for boys and girls ages 2 through 12. Made in the USA, the gowns are manufactured to meet strict hospital infection and safety protocols, and are specially designed to allow for easy access to heart monitors as well as IVs on both sleeves.[5]

Starlight Fun Centers[edit]

Starlight teamed up with Nintendo in 1992 to build Starlight Fun Center mobile entertainment units, which contain Wii technology that has been customized for hospital use.[6] The units carry family-friendly Wii games and a DVD player[7] and serve as a distraction to brighten moods and boost kids' morale during hospital stays.[8]

Starlight Sites[edit]

In partnership with corporate donors, Starlight solicits grants to fund Starlight Sites, which are renovations to children's hospital treatment rooms designed to make kids more comfortable during procedures.[9] The aim is to distract children from pain and anxiety, thereby improving their experience and making procedures easier for doctors and nurses to carry out.[10] Sites can also take the form of teen lounges and kids' playrooms, designed for chronically ill kids facing long stays in the hospital.[11]

Product Philanthropy[edit]

Launched in 2013, this online marketplace is offered to 700 children’s hospitals and other health partners across the US. The marketplace offers donated products and services from companies such as Disney, Radio Flyer Inc. and other brands.[12]

Legacy Programs[edit]

Starlight PC Pals[edit]

Starlight provides tablets to children's hospitals so that kids with limited motion and those who can't leave their beds can still play games. The tablets are housed in protective covers that comply with infection control protocols and come with games, apps and connection to the Starbright World online community.

Starbright World[edit]

The first-ever private social network, started in 1995 by filmmaker and Chairman Emeritus Steven Spielberg, Peter Samuelson and Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr.[13] It served to connect chronically ill teenagers with life-threatening medical conditions, and their siblings,[14][15] in a safe, online community where they could chat, blog, post content, and meet others who shared similar experiences.[16] Starbright World was taken offline on August 31, 2015.

Awards and Accomplishments[edit]

In 2016, Starlight earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator.[17] Starlight is a gold-level GuideStar participant.[18] Starlight is a CharityWatch Top Rated non-profit with an A rating.[19]

Celebrity Support[edit]

Community Partners[edit]

Starlight partners with nearly 700 children's hospitals, hospice centers, outpatient homes and rehabilitation centers nationwide. Below are a list of a some of those partners

Corporate Partners[edit]

Starlight partners with world-class brands and companies, charitable foundations, socially aware groups and organizations and philanthropic individuals. Below are a list of a few corporate partners:


  1. ^ Starlight
  2. ^ "Dynasty’s Emma Samms: My brother’s death made me start Starlight Foundation" Metro UK. May 29, 2013.
  3. ^ "Yoobi Highlight: Jacquie Hart" Yoobi Social. November 23, 2014.
  4. ^ "Christopher Helfrich Joins Starlight Children's Foundation as New Chief Executive Officer". PRWeb. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  5. ^ a b c "Starlight Children's Foundation Launches Program to Revolutionize Children's Hospital Gowns". PRWeb. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  6. ^ "Starlight Starbright Wii Fun Center rolls right up to hospitalized children, not your lazy ass" Engadget. August 26, 2008.
  7. ^ "KC Royals wins mean wins for KC charities" Kansas City Business Journal. October 27, 2014.
  8. ^ "Nintendo Hooks Up Hospitalized Kids With Wii Fun Centers Kotaku. June 24, 2008.
  9. ^ "Taking the dark and scary out of Elmhurst Hospital" The Queens Courier. March 9, 2011.
  10. ^ "Starlight Children's Foundation NY*NJ*CT Unveils New Care Room at the Joseph M. Sanzari Children's Hospital" The Paramus Post. January 21, 2015.
  11. ^ "Boston Medical Center Officially Opens Toys 'R' Us Children's Fund-Starlight Site" BU Public Relations. April 3, 2006.
  12. ^ "St. Mary's, Miller Children's Hospital Request Donations Through Charity Wish Lists" Long Beach Post. December 12, 2014.
  13. ^ a b “Breaking Bad’s RJ Mitte To Be Honored By Starlight Children’s Foundation” Look To The Stars: The World of Celebrity Giving. July 2, 2014.
  14. ^ "Georgetown Men's Basketball Helps Starlight Children's Foundation Grant Wish" Hoya Athletics. June 27, 2014.
  15. ^ "Social Network Connects Kids, Teens With Special Needs" CBS Los Angeles. October 19, 2012.
  16. ^ "Live to Give" Vancouver Canucks News. November 20, 2009.
  17. ^ "Charity Navigator - Rating for Starlight Children's Foundation - Global Office". Charity Navigator. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  18. ^ "Starlight Children's Foundation - GuideStar Profile". Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  19. ^ "Starlight Children's Foundation (National Office) | Charity Ratings | America's Most Independent Charity Watchdog | CharityWatch". Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  20. ^ "STARLIGHT CHILDREN'S FOUNDATION® RECEIVES A $100,000 DONATION FROM THE 2013 DAVE KOZ & FRIENDS CRUISERS - Dave Koz". Dave Koz. 2013-11-26. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  21. ^ a b "Celebrities Back Charity Video Game". Look to the Stars. 2007-09-24. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  22. ^ a b "Bailee Madison Launches Holiday Giving Campaign". Look to the Stars. 2015-11-20. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  23. ^ "Starlight Children's Foundation Hosts Dream Halloween 2016". Look to the Stars. 2016-10-28. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  24. ^ "Stars Design Charity T-Shirts For Starlight Children's Foundation". Look to the Stars. 2009-12-23. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  25. ^ "Paris Hilton To Attend A Stellar Night Of Charity". Look to the Stars. 2011-03-25. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  26. ^ a b "Teri Hatcher And Tony DiTerlizzi Entertain Pediatric Patients At Children's Hospital Los Angeles". Look to the Stars. 2014-05-07. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  27. ^ "Steven Spielberg To Be Awarded 2014 Lincoln Leadership Prize". Look to the Stars. 2014-01-29. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  28. ^ a b c "GIVING BACK: It's a "FULL HOUSE" of Child Stars Old and New at Starlight Children's Foundation® 30th Anniversary & Wish List Launch! - Hollywood Mom Blog". Hollywood Mom Blog. 2013-09-27. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  29. ^ a b "Penelope Cruz And Donatella Versace To Host Charity Gala". Look to the Stars. 2009-07-10. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  30. ^ "Exclusive Interview With Hayley Hasselhoff". Look to the Stars. 2009-05-20. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  31. ^ "CHOC Children's Celebrates Starlight Fun Center Donation - CHOC Children's Blog". CHOC Children's Blog. 2010-07-15. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  32. ^ "Kids at LAC+USC Enjoy a VGo Robot | VGo robotic telepresence for healthcare, education and business". Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  33. ^ a b c GI Editors (2013-11-20). "Insomniac Games Partners with Starlight Children's Foundation Granting Hospital Wishes". Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  34. ^ a b c "Nintendo and Starlight Children's Foundation Deliver More Fun to Hospitalized Children in Washington State | Business Wire". Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  35. ^ Albin, Amy. "Young patients can now relax in newly remodeled teen lounge". UCLA Newsroom. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 
  36. ^ Staff, WCPO (2015-07-12). "MLB, Reds team up to help with renovations at Children's Hospital". WCPO. Retrieved 2017-01-09. 

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