Smiles from Sarah Healing Children with Play

Smiles from Sarah was created to honor Sarah Catherine Fyock – and her sassy, playful, and generous spirit – as she faced numerous health challenges and hospital stays until she passed in 2022 at age 17.

In her memory, we strive to bring smiles and healing to children by expanding the impact and reach of child life programs and therapeutic play in hospitals. Therapeutic play serves a vital function in children’s medical care, allowing child life specialists to give children tools to develop, cope, and communicate when confronted with illness, injury, or disability. It can be the bandage to bind a broken spirit or the pill to alleviate anxiety and pain.

Contributions to date have allowed us to provide both direct funding in support of our mission and countless therapeutic play kits to major hospital centers, including Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Children’s National Hospital of Washington, DC. We are proud of what we have accomplished together thus far and look forward to the next chapter as we continue this vital work.

Checks payable to Smiles from Sarah
Donor Advised Fund: CORE Foundation, Reston, VA (designate Smiles from Sarah)

2023 CORE Cause of the Year


Thank you to all our sponsors, donors, and attendees for a successful first annual Sip & Smile Fundraiser! Almost 200 guests enjoyed beautiful views while gaining a better understanding and appreciation of our mission. Our fun-filled evening also spot-lighted the essential work of Child Life Specialists. We could not do this without you!

About Sarah

Sarah was born with a rare form of congenital muscular dystrophy and received a lifesaving heart transplant at age four. She and her family spent nearly a year in the hospital with frequent visits and procedures throughout her life. Sarah spent long periods away from home, school, friends, dogs, and her much-loved big brother.

While she had a skilled and compassionate medical team, a hospital can be a strange, scary, and lonely place. Fortunately, her team included child life specialists who transformed this foreign world into a safe playground, helping her to smile when she needed it the most.

Through therapeutic play, Sarah bravely faced her medical treatments and procedures. Coming to her room to stay and play made the difference between a good and bad day. Building eruptive Play-Doh volcanos gave voice to Sarah’s fear and frustration. Hands-on art projects to decorate her hospital room brought the comforts of home. Spa time offered relaxation, baking gave rise to courage, music, and singing replaced tears, and games provided a much-needed distraction. Through these activities, Sarah developed age-appropriate skills to process her emotions, direct her care, share her voice, and advocate for her needs. She also developed the spirit and resilience to navigate the hospital’s challenges.

Smiles from Sarah Fyock

Connect for a Purpose

Host a kit-building event and foster stronger social connections among friends and colleagues. We will work with you to customize a fun and rewarding experience!

A play kit project hosted in Chicago

What do I need to host a kit-building party?

  1. Energy and enthusiasm for the cause!
  2. 15+ people, however this can be flexible
  3. Cost of supplies
    • Supplies are purchased in bulk
    • Typically 50 or 100 kits per party
    • Approximately $500-600 per 50 kits

Our team will work with you to design a project that best fits your needs and those of our hospital partners. We provide detailed supply lists, playbooks, and other materials. Then just build, pack, and ship!

Interested in hosting a kit-building party or volunteering for our cause? We would love to hear from you!

Contact Us >