What’s Working: Non-profit brings virtual reality to young patients

What's Working
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MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Patients at USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital are going to a whole new world through exciting new technology. The hospital has received a donation of virtual reality equipment from someone who has spent a lot of time in the hospital himself.  

His name is Caid Rivers. Rivers has started a non-profit agency called “Wings of Joanne.”  He was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, a blood disease when he was a little boy. As a result, he spent two and a half years in the hospital undergoing long and as he calls, “boring” transfusions. He’s now twenty-eight. He named his new non-profit, “Wings of Joanne,” after Joanne, his bone marrow donor.

“I know how these kids feel. Wings of Joanne is a charity based around bringing virtual reality to kids that are stuck in the hospital.  Our goal is to provide relief for the children in an environment that is difficult,” Rivers said.

Rivers has donated several Virtual Reality headsets to USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital, as well as the Ronald McDonald House. His non-profit is only two months old, so he looks forward to donating even more headsets in the future.  He also helps the organizations program the units so that the patients can enjoy them.

The children in the infusion unit often spend hours receiving chemo, or blood.  On the headsets, they can play games or watch their favorite shows in virtual reality. Seven-year-old Jaylnn Hackworth loves playing an outer space game on the VR headset while she’s receiving an infusion.

“I see a dog with bones and you have to get them. I see the moon, and I see a dog with an astronaut,” Hackworth said.

Rivers says it thrills him to know that children are losing track of where they are while playing on the headsets.

“It has been awesome. We have had kids pull it off and double check where they are,” Rivers said. 

 If you would like to learn more about Wings of Joanne, click here.

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