Happy Hats for Kids in Hospitals was founded in 1991 by Sheri Waldstein. This is her story...
losing MY FAMILY.
I founded Happy Hats for Kids in Hospitals, a non-profit organization, in 1991.
At the age of 35 my younger brother passed away from cancer and soon after my father, grandmother and mother succumbed to the same devastating disease. The heartbreak was almost too much to bear. I helplessly noticed the physical pain and emotional trauma of hair loss following chemotherapy.
But I saw something else…wounds not readily visible, such as feelings of isolation, sadness and fear. I could have wallowed in my grief. Instead, I used it as a springboard to action!
As a hat designer by profession, I decorated 100 whimsical hats and personally presented the hats to hospitalized children in Los Angeles fighting cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. It was overwhelming how much fun the kids had smiling and laughing as they saw themselves in a handheld mirror. These creative hats changed the usually somber atmosphere of a critically ill Pediatric Ward into a brighter place. This was truly a heartwarming experience.
To accompany the Happy Hats and help lessen the children’s fears, my husband and I wrote an educational, bilingual, story/activity book explaining basic hospital procedures in a gentle and humorous manner. To date, we have uplifted the spirits of more than 1.2 million hospitalized kids and their families.
As the founder, I consider myself a “professional volunteer” as I have been fortunate to have never received compensation.
Executive Director | Founder