Larissa Allison never knew a TV interview would change her life in such a way that she would make it her mission to bring joy into children’s lives. “One day, my attention was diverted to a TV interview with a little boy who had leukemia but still wanted to help others through volunteer work. That was the turning point for me. God worked on my heart about it, and I promised that if he would open the door, I would walk through it,” she said. “When the idea was placed upon my heart, the program quickly sprang to life!
On January 27, 2000, the Happy Wheels cart began making its rounds at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Children’s Hospital in Charleston, with the children’s hospitals in Columbia and Greenville later coming on board. Each week, Happy Wheels makes rounds to each inpatient room, at all three SC children’s hospitals, with a cheerfully decorated surgical cart filled with new books and toys. Each child picks out a brand-new toy or book of their choice every week for the duration of their admission—they keep the gifts and take them home! Happy Wheels helps turn a frightening hospital experience into a positive one.
Happy Wheels is 100% donor driven and all funding is invested into the organization’s current operations. Our volunteers, donors, supporters and partners are the ones that drive our success by giving children a chance to be kids and to provide comfort and security during a difficult life experience. Whether we are visiting MUSC Children’s Hospital in Charleston, Prisma Health – Upstate Children’s Hospital, or Prisma Health – Midlands Children’s Hospital, we are able to see first-hand that our work provides playtime and enjoyable activities that help reduce children’s stress from being within the hospital setting; distracts a child from pain or coping with a difficult medical condition; and provides comfort in a child’s time of need and recovery.
Since our inception, we have seen exponential growth in the Happy Wheels program and foresee this growth to continue in our journey to help children in South Carolina. We have a strong record of dedicated volunteers that share our passion for helping children cope and/or recover from acute or long-term illness. While there are no measurable statistics on how what we do helps a child in their recovery process just knowing that a child fighting injury or illness can be whisked away into a world filled with magic and wonder, is a tremendous gift of encouragement for a child and their family.
Please visit our hospital partners to learn more about their work and services healing children:
MUSC Children’s Health (Charleston): https://musckids.org
Prisma Health – Midlands Children’s Hospital (Columbia): https://www.palmettohealthchildrens.org
Prisma Health – Upstate Children’s Hospital (Greenville): https://www.ghschildrens.org