In order to give back to the hospital that supported him during a difficult weeklong stay, a 17-year-old Warwick resident has ensured that hundreds of kids battling illnesses and spending long nights at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence will be able to participate in the Good Night Lights program.
Eion Daniels, a student at Pilgrim High School and a Boy Scout of 10 years, launched a campaign for his Eagle Scout project to collect as many flashlights and batteries as possible, which he planned to donate to the hospital.
Daniels had modest expectations for how many flashlights he could realistically gather to donate, expecting he’d get 30 or maybe 40 by the end of his campaign.
On Thursday afternoon, after a couple months of collections, he handed off 810 flashlights to the Hasbro staff, complete with batteries, worth about $5,000 in all.
“It ended up exploding very fast,” Eion said. “People from all over were reaching out to me and wishing me well and donating. I’m pretty sure I now know most people in Rhode Island. It’s been quite the project.”
Daniels got support from countless donors in the Warwick community and beyond, including donations from the Warwick Public Schools, the Hot Club in Providence (where many people participate in the Good Night Lights program) and large donations from Lowe’s and Coast, a West Coast specialty flashlight provider whose LED flashlights can be seen at least two miles away.
Even Cranston Mayor and candidate for Governor Allan Fung got in on the donations, personally giving 20 flashlights to the cause.
“I think it taught him to set his heights higher than maybe he’s ever thought was possible before. When he started the project and started getting some flashlights, I think it pushed him to go get even more,” said Eion’s father Tom. “We’re astonished by the outpouring of support from total strangers. I think this is something that will help the program go nationwide.”
The Good Night Lights program will observe its second anniversary in December, and has gained statewide acclaim for its ability to bring smiles to children stuck in the hospital before bedtime. Every night at 8:30, patients shine flashlights out of their windows and get responses from flashlight-wielding people at businesses, hotels and even members of local police and fire departments on the street level down below.
“It creates excitement throughout the entire day. It’s a great tool for us to be able to say to patients that there’s something cool happening at 8:30 every night and you’ll get to be a part of it,” said Steve Brosnihan, Hasbro’s “resident cartoonist” and the brainchild behind Good Night Lights. “I consider this program to be a vehicle of good will.”
“The community has been so generous and has taken so much time and effort to help out with this,” said Angela Silveira, manager of child life services at Hasbro. “It really helps make anyone’s stay better knowing there is such a strong and supportive community out there for them.”
The flashlights donated via Eion’s campaign is by far the largest donation of its kind received by Hasbro, and they will go directly to patients as gifts. Brosnihan said that he hopes the lights will one day come full circle.
“Hopefully after [the patients] are released and go home, they’ll come back and point these same lights back at the hospital,” he said.
While it was not originally part of the plan, Eion chose to add another element to his donation – a personalized gift bag to Gianna Cirella, the Toll Gate High School student who recently fell ill and is being treated at Hasbro. The bag included a personalized note, flowers and her own purple flashlight – her favorite color.
“Hopefully it helps bring light and a smile to her and shows her that she has support, even from a total stranger,” said Tom.
Eion said that, while he couldn’t donate a large sum of money to the hospital directly, he felt that the next best thing would be to do something to help make the kids’ nighttime experiences at Hasbro just a little bit brighter.