They’re business owners, and they’re retirees. They’re Valley natives, and they’re East Coast transplants. They’re all grandmothers passionate about helping children. They’re WINGS: When In Need Grandmas Serve

The philanthropy group formed in 2015, according to board member and past president Alice Bazlen, “to inspire giving to Phoenix Children’s.” Since then, the group has grown to over 50 women who convene almost monthly to support Phoenix Children’s and its patients’ needs. Together, they’ve raised almost $1 million for Phoenix Children’s, supporting programs like Paws Can Heal, Camp Rainbow and the Young Investigators Awards, which helps promising up-and-coming researchers achieve their dreams of changing kids' health.

WINGS members see themselves as “mini ambassadors,” sharing what’s available and possible at Phoenix Children’s, says WINGS President Cathy Reahard. “We want to do anything we can to ease the stress of children when they’re going through the battle of their lives,” Cathy says. 

WINGS members Dawn Schlott, Cindy Ketcherside, Alice Bazlen, Cathy Reahard, Helene Presutti and Dana Jirauch at Paradise Valley Country Club 

Camp Rainbow

When WINGS members realized that many of Phoenix Children’s most vulnerable patients were missing out on some of childhood’s most simple joys—like attending sleepaway camp—due to their medical needs, they knew they could do something about it. 

The group doubled its goal to raise funds for Camp Rainbow, an exclusive getaway for kids battling cancer. And next summer, 200 children will swim, canoe and ride horses alongside the doctors and nurses they love and trust. 

“Who doesn’t want to see a child go to camp?” Cathy asks. “They can share this wonderful experience together and feel just like every other child.” 

Camp Rainbow campers and their counselors celebrate their win 

Paws can heal

The group’s newest fundraising campaign, Paws Can Heal, will support a much-loved, full-time facility dog and trained specialist for the hospital’s new Facility Dog Program.

When presented with the opportunity to help fund this program, the WINGS Board enthusiastically adopted it as their next initiative. On hospital tours, WINGS members had seen therapy dogs visiting the patients in their rooms. Here’s what stood out: The kids were smiling, comforted and relaxed. 

A patient pets Yankee, one of Phoenix Children's trusted facility dogs

Phoenix Children’s current volunteer therapy dog teams come in once a week and play a key role in the recovery process. WINGS members wanted more children to experience the healing power of animals. “You’ve got this very lonely child whose parents might be at work, and a dog comes in and keeps them company. The dog takes a child’s mind off of a shot or difficult treatment,” Alice explains. 

“As grandmothers, so many of our families have personally benefitted from Phoenix Children’s services. The hospital touches us so directly,” she continues. “We saw this as another opportunity to bring joy to what can be a very solemn environment.” 

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