Kids getting their face painted and munching on donuts should be the most natural thing in the world. There should be nothing special about little ones dancing and laughing and asking their parents for a balloon animal.

But at a Bags for Fun event nothing could be more precious. Our families said it best:

“Lilly gets four hours a day free from IVs and being connected to things. It is so nice when she can get around and just be free from it all.”

“You have no idea how nice it was to just have fun for a night. You did a fantastic job with the event and we enjoyed it immensely!! When you are an oncology patient, not every day is fun. Allowing Adlyn to have fun for one night was amazing, I loved watching her smile and dance!”

The Bring out the Bags event was a special night, indeed!

The evening started with electricity in the air. We loved seeing all the families with strollers and young kids! Our guests got to come as a family and play for those who can’t.

The little ones ran up to the doors and could hardly wait to get up the elevator to the event. When elevator doors opened, the excitement was overwhelming with all the activities waiting for our families. The first stop was a picture with the balloon arch. Then the kids lined up for face painting, balloon animals, a bouncy house, a ride on the snowboard simulator or a myriad of fun games.

Meanwhile, the parents grabbed a cocktail and started socializing. It was a lovely time for our Bags of Fun community. The event brought together donors, supporters, health care workers, and bag recipients. Being all together in one place allows people to swap stories. Donors got to hear how the recipients’ lives were touched with a Bag of Fun, and health care workers got to socialize with their families, without having medicine to give or tests to run.

Before the program people put in their bids on 200 silent auction items and enjoyed the delicious food stations. There was a taco bar and bbq station and kids munched on chicken tenders, mac and cheese, and tater tots.

Our MC’s Andy and Andy welcomed everyone and introduced our co-chairs, Jerry Schemmel, and Tammy, our Executive Director. There was a presentation and video about Bag recipients and the impact Bags of Fun has had the last 18 years with the community’s help.

Then it was time to raise some paddles. Our community was bidding for how many Bags they could support and the starting bid was 25 Bags. Once we announced the matching bid from Salah foundation, the excitement began to build. It was fun to see the kids getting into it and helping their parents. When Broncos tickets were announced, a bidding war ensued. Eventually there were 2 winners and a second set of tickets were donated! The program ended with the warm feeling of a community giving back.

The evening was a success in more ways than one. In the 18 years since the founding of Bags of Fun, the need for Bags has grown exponentially each year. And every year our community has overwhelmed us with their generosity and met that need. Over 400 Bags of Fun!

But more importantly than that, this event typifies what Bags of Fun represents. For one night everything was in its place. Kids were kids. Parents were parents. Friends were all around. This is what Bags of Fun hopes to do every time we deliver a Bag to a family.

For just a moment they put everything in its right place. A kid gets to be a kid, excited to open presents, play, and have fun. Parents get to enjoy being a parent, watching their little one light up and get excited about what could happen that day. And the community gets to come around people they care about.

This is the power of play. This is the power of community. And this is the power of Gabby’s wish that started it all 18 years ago.