Members of Lake Shore Public Schools participated in Moonbeams for Sweet Dreams Dec. 14 at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak.

Members of Lake Shore Public Schools participated in Moonbeams for Sweet Dreams Dec. 14 at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak.

Photo provided by Lake Shore Public Schools


Lake Shore students shine brightly at Moonbeams for Sweet Dreams

By: Kristyne E. Demske, Sarah Wojcik | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published December 20, 2018

 Students and families shined flash lights and signs at pediatric patients at the hospital.

Students and families shined flash lights and signs at pediatric patients at the hospital.

Photos provided by Lake Shore Public Schools

 This is the second year of the Moonbeams for Sweet Dreams program.

This is the second year of the Moonbeams for Sweet Dreams program.

Photo provided by Lake Shore Public Schools

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ST. CLAIR SHORES/ROYAL OAK — "It was just an eye-opening, emotional experience.”

Tasha Candela, internship facilitator and digital media coordinator for Lake Shore Public Schools, said that she participated in Moonbeams for Sweet Dreams outside the pediatric unit of Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak earlier this month with her daughter’s Daisy Girl Scout troop.

While she was outside with her daughter shining a light in, a 2017 graduate of Lake Shore High School and her mother were inside the hospital because Megan Ritz, 19, was receiving chemotherapy.

Megan Ritz was 18 when she was diagnosed with a medulloblastoma, a cancerous brain tumor that has been treated with radiation and now chemotherapy.

“It’s very overwhelming, the whole thing, it’s just crazy,” said Tracey Ritz, of Clinton Township, who is also the mother of a senior at Lake Shore High School. “Just to see the ... fire trucks, cop cars, couple hundred people. A lot of it was our friends came to support Megan, too.”

This is the second year that the community has gathered outside the pediatric unit at Beaumont Hospital every night in December with flashlights in hand to support the Moonbeams for Sweet Dreams program.

The community display is designed to hearten young patients and their families who have to spend the holidays in a hospital room. Young patients also receive their own flashlights to shine back at the crowd.

“Many children are unable to leave their rooms and can feel isolated in the hospital as the rest of the world continues without them,” said Kathleen Grobbel, Beaumont Children’s child life supervisor. “With the help of the community, we can make sure they go to bed with smiles on their faces.”

Bringing cheer to the children was the reason why at least 300 members of Lake Shore Public Schools loaded onto five buses and traveled from St. Clair Shores to participate in Moonbeams for Sweet Dreams Dec. 14. An estimated 1,300 people were in attendance that night showing their support for pediatric patients, including those representing Lake Shore Public Schools.

Candela said that they really wanted to show support for Megan Ritz and other children hospitalized this holiday season.

“We wanted to make it districtwide,” Candela said was the reason that the school district provided transportation to the hospital for those who wanted to participate.

Eos Cafe provided hot cocoa for participants, and emergency vehicles from St. Clair Shores also traveled to Royal Oak to participate in the event.

“It’s a family-oriented, community event,” Candela said. “We opened it up to everyone.”

Tracey Ritz said that when her daughter was in the hospital, they were overwhelmed by the support from Moonbeams for Sweet Dreams.

“It’s never a pleasant stay in the hospital,” she said. “The kids were just so excited to see these people outside shine their flashlights, and they were given flashlights to shine out.”

Grobbel said Moonbeams for Sweet Dreams was created by the Beaumont Children’s Pediatric Family Advisory Council — comprising parents of children who have spent time at Beaumont Children’s — and modeled after a similar initiative at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island.

She said this year, the event has picked up in popularity, with a huge outpouring of community support each night, but that the hospital is looking for more volunteers for the nights of Dec. 29, 30 and 31.

The event begins promptly at 8 p.m. and lasts approximately five to 10 minutes.

“It’s very heartwarming to see the support of the district,” said Tracey Ritz.

Organizers encourage interested participants to carpool and to arrive early to allow themselves time to park and walk to the pediatric unit, located across from the east entrance. Groups of 30 or more should register online at www.beaumont.org/moonbeams.

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