By Ken Robertshaw, a member of the Rotary Club of Halifax, West Yorkshire, England
I had the misfortune of seriously injuring my leg 35 years ago, requiring six operations, and the leg still troubles me. So I know how challenging hospital stays can be, even with the best efforts of the medical staff.
Imagine how much worse it is for a child; frightened, sick, and away from family and friends. A while ago, I learned about a small charity in the United Kingdom called the Theodora Children’s Trust that specializes in sending in trained entertainers to bring mirth and merriment to children in the hospital.
I have seen them in action and can tell you it is not just the child that is cheered up, but parents, siblings, and hospital staff who all benefit from a visit by the “Giggle Doctor.” Laughter is the best medicine, and there are academic studies that prove it.
As a district governor, I began to support the children’s trust and they set up operation in Yorkshire in 2009. Recently, Grace Alsancak, a former participant in Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, and I decided to take on an additional challenge to help the charity – traveling the entire length of the Mississippi River by kayak from source to sea.
We have met some wonderful people along the way who have helped us, suffered appalling weather, had to camp in strange places, and put up with being isolated from the world for days on end.
Is it worth it? You bet! Every mile brings us closer to home and every penny raised will help cheer up a child in the hospital. I am 59 years old, Grace is 22, and the Rotary Club of Halifax is our home club. So you see, Rotary members are just ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Learn more about Robertshaw’s journey at www.mississippichallenge.co.uk.