Happy Wheels

To brighten the lives of children in South Carolina who are hospitalized and battling illness.

We are asking for State Farm's help to meet a very important need in our community: to aid in the recovery of children by giving them bright moments and recreational activities while they are battling frightening illnesses. Creative play, fun, and imagination have a significant impact on childhood development. Multiple studies indicate playtime and enjoyable activities reduce 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. Happy Wheels makes rounds to each inpatient room, at all three SC children’s hospitals each week, with a cheerfully decorated surgical cart filled with new books and toys. Each child picks out a brand-new toy or a 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 hospital experience into a positive one.

Happy Wheels is 100% donor driven and all funding is invested into the organization's current operations. In 2018, we served 9,887 children. Currently, we have one full-time employee that travels weekly to South Carolina’s three children’s hospitals in Columbia, Greenville, and Charleston to manage the program. With the $25,000 grant, we would hire a part-time employee to help us expand our services to include fulfilling special wishes for exceptionally ill children, like Carter: Carter, 11, is battling leukemia. He has spent 46 days hospitalized and attended only one week of school in 2019. A Clemson Tigers fan, we arranged for Carter to spend a day touring Clemson University’s baseball facilities, attend batting practice, and throw out the first pitch at a game. With this grant, we could serve more children and have special wishes fulfilled like Carter’s so that they can have some fun; and having fun positively impacts healing. Carter’s chemotherapy treatment will last 3.5 years.

The grant would provide a lasting impact in our community by showing that “charity” and volunteerism is about providing positivity, encouragement, and a bright spot to those in need. In turn, this helps builds a healthy and positive community. 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, our success is driven by giving children a chance to be kids and to provide comfort and security during a difficult life experience. 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.