Outside Philadelphia’s City Hall on a chilly late autumn day, dusk was falling as a crowd gathered for the Hospital’s first Season of Light campaign. People held electric candles as President and CEO Madeline Bell opened the event, which kicked off this community-wide fundraiser and show of support for the children at CHOP. Councilman Kenyatta Johnson shared his appreciation for the care a young relative with sickle cell disease received. Susan Funck offered a moving tribute to her daughter Hannah Duffy, who passed away in 2013 after fighting an aggressive brain tumor. And finally, spunky 5-year-old Ciarlo charmed the crowd as his mother told of the nine surgeries he has braved to treat his spina bifida.
Then the Season of Light became more than just a campaign name, as the crowd’s candles and the buildings lining South Broad Street — along with other landmarks across the city, including the Cira Centre and the Ben Franklin Bridge — were lit up in CHOP’s signature blue.
The Season of Light was the most sweeping holiday awareness campaign in the Hospital’s history. Through mail, email, social media, city banners, SEPTA advertisements, and radio and television spots, people were encouraged to give hope to families of sick children, bring healing to young patients, and honor the brave and beautiful kids we’ve lost.
Nearly 1,000 supporters “shared their light” by sending messages of compassion to our patients during the holiday season, and thousands gave gifts. More than $950,000 was raised, advancing the hope manifested by the city’s famous structures bathed in blue light.