Arielle Colter, one-and-a-half-years old, had just finished her second round of chemotherapy before toddling into the playroom on the 5th floor of the Children’s Hospital and Research Center in Oakland.
When her mother and father, Cynthia Londo and Cole Colter, brought her here from Modesto this past August, Arielle was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a cancer that develops in the nerve tissues, most commonly in infants and children.
But on Tuesday, she was dressed in a pink fairy outfit, complete with a tiny wand. The playroom was decorated with cardboard spiders, orange caution tape and a remote control ghoul that ziplines from one corner of the ceiling to the other.
Arielle high-fived a pink Power Ranger and glued sparkly stickers on a miniature pumpkin.
At the annual Spirit of Halloween party, patients at the Children’s Hospital don costumes donated by the seasonal store Spirit of Halloween, which pops up in warehouses across the U.S. in the weeks leading up to the holiday.
The company sends district and store managers from its 40-plus Bay Area stores to Children’s Hospital to decorate, dress up and spend time with the young patients.
“Even though they don’t get to trick or treat, they might still feel a sense of normalcy,” said Melinda Krigel, a spokesperson for Children’s Hospital.
Mike Baldwin, a district manager of Spirit of Halloween from Castro Valley and the father of two young kids, volunteered for last year’s event as well.
“It’s amazing how much fun they can have decorating pumpkins,” Baldwin said.
“It’s festive and fun and it makes them forget their illnesses,” added hospital spokesperson Krigel. “If they’re feeling sad, it’s going to be harder for them to heal.”