In mid-December Protravel International hosted a holiday party for children with brain tumors and their families at the Lotte New York Palace hotel. More than 240 guests celebrated the holidays with activities and games, food and beverages, performers and a special visit from Santa Claus, who presented gifts to each child.
“The Children’s Holiday Party is a testament to the caring and dedication of our wonderful Protravel International team,” said Gail Grimmett, Protravel president, in a written release. “Long ago they decided to forego their own gift exchange to bring the holiday spirit to these children.”
This year the party was held in the ballroom at the Palace, where the children and families were treated to a festive dinner, live guitar music by Dan Lopez and a host of activities, including arts and crafts, games, a personal trainer leading physical activities, and face painting with Protravel volunteers. More than 20 costumed characters and performers circulated the room, including magician Seth Dale, stilt walkers, clowns, a balloon artist, several Disney princesses, and champion yo-yoer George John, who shared techniques with guests. The highlight of the night occurred when each child was given the opportunity for a special visit with Santa Claus, during which he presented them with several gifts chosen specifically for them.
For 33 years, the Children’s Holiday Party has been coordinated by Protravel’s Senior Vice President of Leisure Sales & Marketing, Andy Pesky, who is a brain tumor survivor himself.
“We couldn’t host this party without the considerable efforts of so many of our dedicated colleagues, providers and customers who help us pull off this wonderful event each year,” said Pesky. “The volunteers are vital in helping us bring this joyful event to these children and their families.”
In addition to Protravel International, whose agents and employees staffed the party, event sponsors included Enterprise Rent-a-Car and Preferred Hotels and Resorts, which each ran toy drives among employees; Melissa and Doug, which donated toys; and Major League Baseball, which contributed jerseys for each child.
"Holidays can be difficult for families who feel like they live between the hospital and home,” said Stacia Wagner, vice president of quality of life programs at the Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation. “The party gave them a chance to truly celebrate and laugh together. It also gives them a wonderful opportunity for companionship with other families going through the same difficult time.”