Editor’s Note: Babble is a part of The Walt Disney Company.
Project Princess UF is sprinkling magic across children’s hospitals in a way that can only be described as heartwarming. The world can be a scary place for children fighting terminal illnesses, but Founder Kierra Brown is making it a whole lot better with Disney-inspired princess visits to those who need it most.
This beautiful student-based organization was launched last September on University of Florida’s campus, to provide free princess appearances. Many children aren’t able to visit Disney World because of their health, so Brown’s efforts are quite special (and much appreciated).
“A typical stay in a hospital for a child is filled with uncomfortable medical treatments and doctors and nurses constantly entering their rooms. This sort of environment often times leaves little to no room for hope, joy, or simply for that child to be [a] kid,” she continues. “Through our princess visits, we are able to bring an element of magic and imagination.”
Any parent who’s seen their child suffer would agree that anything that makes their little one smile is worth it. Most kids — healthy or not — would have a smile plastered to their face upon seeing their favorite princess enter a room. That’s why this organization is so meaningful to these kids and their parents.
“Only if just for a moment, we help these children escape their realities by providing them with [a] chance to meet their favorite princesses and bring them into our enchanted world of fairytales where anything is possible,” says Brown.
With over 30 active club members and 16 princess actresses at the ready, Project Princess also makes house visits, and has teamed up with other nonprofits to create free playdates for children with various developmental disabilities, such as Down syndrome, autism, and the hearing impaired community.
While Brown lives for making these children’s dreams come true, it’s the parents’ responses that she remembers the most. One such family is the Shorts, who had a 6-year-old daughter named Breana who was fighting cancer. Project Princess partnered with Phalanx Defense System to grant Breana the wish of meeting her favorite princesses on a horse and carriage ride.
“Despite having just left a chemotherapy appointment, Breana’s face gleamed with light and laughter. Her parents, whose eyes were filled with tears, watched their little girl become a child again,” Brown notes. “They too had a moment to escape their family’s reality, and for a moment take their minds off their daughter’s condition.”
Sadly, on March 27 Breana passed away. Shortly after, the family wrote a beautiful thank you that reads:
”The memories you have provided us will last our lifetimes and those memories are the most precious thing I have. The world is a much brighter place with people like you and your organization in it. I hope you know [how] much that means.”
These princess visits offer kids the chance to take a break and simply be a kid — giving them the strength to persevere.
“I have seen with my own eyes what real strength and courage looks like. The smiles and unspeakable joy that these children possess reminds me that our light can shine brighter than any darkness we are experiencing,” Brown says.
If you’d like to donate to the Project Princess efforts, visit their GoFundMe page.
Keep up the good work, Kierra Brown. We can’t wait to see what magic you continue to create.