Roger Shiffman Brings Joy To Sick Children
Roger Shiffman has been bringing children joy for decades.
The toy guru, who was behind the marketing of the massively successful Furby, is in the business of putting smiles on kids faces. With his new role as chairman of the board at the Starlight Children's Foundation, he's now working to bring happiness specifically to millions of sick children worldwide.
"My whole life was based around kids, one way or the other," Shiffman said. "I just loved the fact that I was in a position to do things for these kids."
Shiffman got involved with the organization 23 years ago after he saw Starlight kids at Chicago Bulls basketball games.
"I'd watch them meet Michael Jordan and stuff like that," Shiffman explained. "One thing lead to another and now I have a much bigger role than I ever dreamed of."
Starlight "brings together experts from pediatric health care, technology and entertainment to create programs that help brighten the lives of seriously ill children and their families," according to its website.
The foundation helped almost 4.5 million children last year, Shiffman told HuffPost.
One of the things that makes Starlight stand out, according to the chairman, is that the organizations creates programs designed to help the entire family, not just the sick child.
"There are siblings who are often in the situation where so much of the resources of the family, like time and money, go to the sibling that is ill," he said. "At Starlight, they're included. When we do a camp or another program, it's for everyone in the family."
He is particularly fond of Starlight's fun centers -- flat screen TVs hooked up to Wii gaming systems that can be easily wheeled into hospital rooms.
"I saw the value in a fun center the second I saw one," Shiffman said. "There's a lot of isolation, downtime and trepidation about what's happening for these kids. They can train on them, play games and watch movies. It's a very easy, tangible thing to look at and understand."
The fun centers are one way of distracting ill children from the problems they face, he explained.
"I love when I get to see Starlight kids having fun and being only in the moment," he said. "They're really being like all other kids. I've seen that many times."
Starlight is already successful, but Shiffman said his job is to make it more so by increasing the charity's reach and expanding its donor base.
"We need to grow the Starlight name and get to more people and have more people aware of us," said Shiffman. "We want to reach both people who have kids that could be helped by Starlight and people who would want to help Starlight."
Which brings Shiffman to his final point, which is that anyone can be a part of his organization and help bring joy to children in need.
"We are mostly volunteers and we're always looking for volunteers and donors," Shiffman said. "We would love people to look into the possibility of helping Starlight."
To do just that, click over to Starlight's website.