What have you done to make a difference in your community?
Years ago I enrolled in a local leadership program by the Bonita Springs Chamber of Commerce. The program was called Leadership Bonita. On “Healthcare Day” our class toured various hospitals and medical centers, including Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida; in particular we tour the Chrissy Brown Hematology and Oncology Center. It’s where kids with blood disorders or cancer visit for treatment.
In the family room of this hospital wing our leadership class gathered to go over our schedule and visit. It was there that I noticed a broken down pinball machine. It was a disaster. I have some pretty eclectic friends so I texted a photo to a “pinball friend” who immediately shot back a text wanting to know more. I told him it is in the children’s hospital and it’s not operational. I then told the hospital employee giving us the tour that I know men who won’t be able to sleep at night knowing these kids can’t play it.
This broken pinball machine was a gift in memory of a late patient, an honor roll elementary school student and decorated Cub Scout who passed away at age 11 in April 2000. The plaque on the machine reads: “If tears could build a stairway, and memories a lane, we’d walk right up to heaven, and bring you home again. In loving memory of Jimmy Schneeberger.” … and yes, I still tear up when I read that, even after all of these years.
The repair took over $1,000 in parts plus over 100 man hours of labor to get Spidey back on his feet. Volunteers and benefactors from all over the country sent money, parts and gifts to get this machine back to the unit in time for the Christmas holidays for all of those brave little warriors fighting the battle.
Project Pinball, the charity, was born and has now evolved into a full blown 501(C)(3) called Project Pinball Charity Group.
Naturally, I’m still pushing this charity as a major contributor, the publicist, webmaster and social media master. On a monthly basis, we visit Spidey up at Chrissy Brown to keep him in tip top shape and to make sure that machine never ends up in disrepair again.
The last several weeks have been remarkable for Project Pinball. Recently, it has been selected as the feature charitable organization for a national pinball league. During the month of July there are (to date) 42 cities across the United States holding fundraising tournaments and with proceeds benefit Project Pinball. The plan is to place more machines in other children's hospitals. At this time, there is one going in Tampa, Jacksonville, plus I believe a goal of Seattle and Pittsburgh in the near future. The director of Project Pinball is Daniel Spolar 239-287-5497 if anyone would like to learn more. Donations can be made via PayPal at www.ProjectPinball.org and you can also follow us at www.facebook.com/ProjectPinball