Radio Lollipop Sweetens Hospital Stays

Radio Lollipop - Early Show Segment, June 25, 2007 CBS/EARLY SHOW

Six-year-old Bailey Spoonhower has a rare form of cancer that grows in soft tissues of the body. For over a year now, the hospital has been his second home.

But Bailey, like other patients at the Children's Hospital of Orange County, is treated to bright spots in his week when a Radio Lollipop comes on.

"He was really, really shy," Bailey's mother Michelle Spoonhower told The Early Show national correspondent Hattie Kauffman. "Really shy after he was diagnosed. He just didn't want his picture taken, he would never have a camera in front of him like right now."

"When I was hooked up to my tubies the first time, I feel a little bit sad," Bailey said.

Radio Lollipop airs twice a week for two hours. The hospital's main lobby turns into a radio station and it broadcasts live throughout the hospital on television monitors.

"It's a station just for kids to have fun," Bailey said.

There are only three hospitals in the country with a Radio Lollipop. As a non-profit, it depends on hospitals raising the money to set it up and volunteers to run it.

Danielle Vasquez is a nurse at the hospital's outpatient clinic, but on Thursday nights, she's one of the kids' favorite deejays.

"Instead of being the one where they're like, 'Oh, here comes the nurse,' they're like, 'Oh, here comes the Radio Lollipop volunteer!' So I get to see the full spectrum," she said.

Hospital administrators say the goal of Radio Lollipop is to let kids be kids, something that's not always easy when you're fighting a chronic disease. For a few hours a week, patients can forget about treatments.

Even kids who can't leave their beds can be part of the excitement. Tehya Foussat, 12, listened to Radio Lollipop for the first time and called in to request "Holla Back Girl" by Gwen Stephani.

"That is one of the greatest songs ever!" Vasquez said. "Are you going to be dancing in your bed?"

"Maybe," Tehya answered.

"OK Miss Tehya, this is for you!" Vasquez said.

The chief resident of the hospital Dr. Tony McCanta is a big fan of the program. He says the kids know exactly what time the program comes on.

"Many of my patients will be up in the room you know for several days at a time," he said. "It's the one thing they look forward to during the week. They just love it."

Dr. McCanta said children who are happier seem to heal faster because their spirits are better.

"They end up at least getting through difficult times better," he said.

Now Bailey actually has fun in the hospital.

"He loves doing the cha-cha slide with us," Vasquez said. "He's really become the kid that he should be."

It may not cure his cancer, but Bailey's father, Andrew Spoonhower, says Radio Lollipop made his son smile again.

"He was smiling for the first time," he said. "He was laughing out loud. It was just a very spiritual experience in a way. It just brought a tear to my eye."

And Bailey agrees.

"It makes the hospital rockin'," he said.
  • Caitlin Johnson

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