Agency hopes to help families fighting illnesses

If you’re a member of a family that has a child with a serious illness, the Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation wants you.

All of you.

The foundation, which is headquartered in Los Angeles, recently expanded into Las Vegas, said representative Lynn Garlock-Wright. Its mission? To help seriously ill children and their families “ease the pain through education, entertainment and family activities,” according to the foundation’s motto.

Garlock-Wright is the local organization’s coordinator of the monthly Great Escapes that provide some measure of relief for families, even if just for a little while. Since she signed on in May, she has been trying to find families in need of help.

“The big struggle is getting the word out and letting everyone know we’re here,” she said.

“Seriously ill,” she said, describes, in this case, “any type of chronic disease or illness that makes their life unmanageable.” Among them are leukemia and other types of cancers, heart problems and asthma. And it applies to children from age 4 through their 18th year, with parents and siblings.

“The nice thing about the organization and our events,” she said, “is it’s a matter of creating an environment whereby the siblings and the children all feel equal. It’s also a great way for families to connect with other families.”

So far, Garlock-Wright said, five local families are signed up. Because the group is small, the activities have been smaller in scope, she noted. But they will include a rock-star event in which the families will be picked up in limousines for a red-carpet appearance complete with laminated VIP badges, sunglasses and temporary tattoos, with faux and real photographers and paparazzi shooting their photos before they gather to attend a family-oriented show. A video record of the event will be in the style of an entertainment TV show.

“I think it’s something very memorable,” Garlock-Wright said. “For any of the children who won’t be with us very long, it’s something that their families can hold onto.”

This month, she said, she’s putting together a “pinnacle versus pinheads” bowling tournament, with the children as pinnacles and members of a clown troupe as pinheads.

Everything is free to the families, she said. The organization is supported through donations and grants.

Garlock-Wright said the reason for her own involvement is pretty basic.

“I’m a veteran comedy-club owner,” she said. “It’s a very nice combination for me, having a business that makes people laugh and working with the children and their families to ease the pain through entertainment. Having been a producer myself over 20 years, I certainly have enjoyed putting together some fun events for them.”

She’s also recruiting volunteers to assist in chaperoning events and activities such as stuffing goodie bags, shopping for items for goodie bags and so forth.

Interested families — and those interested in volunteering — are asked to call Garlock-Wright at 367-0206, or e-mail her at lynn.garlock-wright@starlight.org.

More information on the Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation is available at www.starlight.org.

Contact reporter Heidi Knapp Rinella at hrinella@reviewjournal.com or (702) 383-0474.

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