By: Connie Seacrest, Vice President, Community Affairs and Hospital Relations, Ryan Seacrest Foundation
It feels like just yesterday Ryan was doing the morning announcements at Dunwoody High School and Meredith was cheerleading at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School.
My husband Gary and I raised them to appreciate the importance of family togetherness, and because of that, it seems suitable that we would dream up our family’s foundation around our dinner table. Ryan has spent considerable time visiting children’s hospitals, and wanted our efforts to have a direct and lasting impact on patients and families. After much discussion, we decided to create broadcast media centers in pediatric facilities, and determined the first one had to be in our hometown hospital at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA).
When we opened THE VOICE, I knew we were doing something special, but I could not have imagined the positive effect it would have on patients, but also on my family. Not only has it been an amazing learning experience, it has brought my family together as a team. Gary and I are fortunate to visit the studio regularly, and I cannot begin to explain the joy I feel seeing the smiles on patients’ faces after they have interviewed Cody Simpson or taken pictures with Selena Gomez.
Most recently, American Idol’s top 10 visited, joined by Hope & Will, plus a pet therapy dog named Sally. As usual, the space in and around the studio was buzzing with excitement. After a brief group interview, the patients and families sang Happy Birthday to Idol runner-up Jessica Sanchez to celebrate her turning 17, and the Idols took photos and signed autographs until each child had a chance to meet them.
Our most sincere hope was that THE VOICE would be a positive distraction for children, and each story I hear about their experiences is deeply meaningful to me. One mother told me that the studio gives her child something to look forward to while undergoing treatment. Another parent told me that her child had not gotten out of bed for weeks, but a visit from her favorite artist motivated her to get dressed and participate. As we shared tears over this special moment, I knew my family and the staff at CHOA had created something important.
If you have had a positive experience in the studio, I would love for you to share your story with me here: