If you are looking for a holiday activity that is fun for the whole family and gives you the warm feeling that comes with helping a great cause, consider driving to Okeeheelee Park and visiting the Lights 4 Hope Holiday Display fundraiser.
From the comfort and safety of your car, you can treat your family to a 12-minute drive through a light display, while at the same time your $12 donation per car helps bring toys and decorations to children stuck at local children’s hospitals during the holidays.
“You can’t not help kids, especially this time of year,” Rochelle Stryker said.
Stryker and her mother Joan Dagostino heard about the inaugural event from friends and enjoyed driving through the display last weekend.
“I am very proud of what these volunteers did in their first year,” she said. “We showed up because we support the cause, and we are already looking forward to next year.”
Lights 4 Hope Inc. is a new nonprofit organization created to help bring happiness and hope to sick children, especially during the holiday season. A team of volunteers, including many first responders, created the wonderful drive-through holiday light display at Okeeheelee Park. Their mission is to generate happiness, joy and hope. Proceeds from the show will go toward providing holiday gifts and decorations to children in local hospitals, as well as families in need.
“Since watching multiple friends and family members struggle through illness and death, we wanted to somehow help children in need while spreading joy to others,” said Dara O’Connor, community relations director for Lights 4 Hope. “With the light show, we are able to raise money to help the children, but still entertain people so they not only are donating their money, but also getting to enjoy our passion for holiday lights.”
While there are hopes to expand to other hospitals, children and their families being treated at Palm Beach Children’s Hospital at St. Mary’s Medical Center will be the focus of this year’s campaign.
“We are on schedule to help impact at least 100 children and families this year, and we hope to increase that number each year,” O’Connor said. “We not only will be delivering gifts to patients of Palm Beach Children’s Hospital, but we will also be sponsoring as many families with sick children as we are able, so they, too, can enjoy their holiday at home.”
Lisa Barron, pediatric supervisor at the Palm Beach Children’s Hospital, is thankful for the group’s work.
“This is our first year working with this enthusiastic group,” she said. “We love the passion they bring to the table. We are not sure how many kids, or what ages will be here for the holidays, but these presents and decorations are sure to help.”
To drive through the display takes about 12 minutes to navigate, not counting wait times, which ran a bit less than 20 minutes last Sunday night during prime time. The display is located near the dog park and nature center — just follow signs within the park. The family can even listen to Christmas tunes on 107.9 FM, but should switch the station as they approach the final exhibit, which is a Holiday Tree, with lights timed in synchronicity to the music broadcast at 107.7 FM.
Apparently, the mixture of holiday displays and the warm feelings of helping sick children bring out the best in people.
“Two nights this weekend, we had at least 15 cars in a row paying it forward for each other,” O’Connor said. “Lights 4 Hope is anticipating expanding to other local hospitals, such as Palms West, either this holiday season or the next. In addition, we are looking into hosting a fundraising event in the Village of Wellington.”
The inaugural Lights 4 Hope Holiday Display recently extended Sunday night hours and now runs every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Jan. 6 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, visit www.lights4hope.org.