Family Crisis Inspires Local Teens to Help Critically ill Children at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Pittsburgh

Jul 12, 2013, 16:34 ET from Ronald McDonald House Charities

PITTSBURGH, July 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Two brothers from Pittsburgh have transformed a family crisis into a philanthropic effort to benefit guests at Ronald McDonald House.

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James, 18 and Christian,16, Delligatti co-founded the Lilli's Happy Pad® project, a loaning library of iPads® for House guests.  The hand-held electronic tablets allow patients to access e-mail, blogs, music, games, movies, books and other entertainment and education options during long treatment days at nearby hospitals.

The program is named after the Delligatti's cousin Lilli Curry from Houston, TX, who was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma in 2011.  Now 12 and in remission, Lilli used her handheld tablet to relieve stressful days while she underwent treatment at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

"My family has always supported Ronald McDonald House," explained James.  "When we saw how Lilli used her iPad during treatments, we knew all the kids at the House should get one too."

"The distraction and normalization that the iPad can provide is a huge benefit," said Michael Shulock, Child Life Specialist at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. "This is a great initiative that these boys are starting."

The program's namesake, who will enter seventh grade this fall, knows firsthand that the program provides tremendous benefits for critically ill children.

"It's really hard to spend so much time in the hospital and in treatment," Curry said.  "But the iPads my cousins sent to my brother Chas and me helped a lot.  We used them to play games, send emails, read books and watch movies  – I even used an art app to create thank you notes for all the people who were supporting me.  I'm so happy James and Christian have figured out a way to help other sick kids too."

The Delligatti brothers have collected $13,000 -- enough to purchase 20 iPads and cases; numerous apps; games and movies; and equipment House staffers need to facilitate the program.  Additional fundraising efforts are underway towards the goal of acquiring 60 fully loaded iPads – one for each family apartment at the House.

The teens also have larger aspirations for their Lilli's Happy Pad program.  Once Pittsburgh's program is fully operational, they hope to extend it to the 300+ Ronald McDonald Houses around the world.

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SOURCE Ronald McDonald House Charities