Tampa, Florida: After multiple stays in the hospital, a local 15 year old girl has used her experience to recognize a need of others. While at the hospital, Caitlin Shannon found herself dreading long days in the hospital awaiting tests and procedures and thought that many other children in her position, or worse, may experience the same feeling. When thinking about her experience, Caitlin, the oldest of four siblings, says, “When I was 13, I was in and out of the hospital and surgery centers for two years. It gave me an amazing outlook.”
Caitlin has put her thoughts into action. While most 15 year old girls are busy trying to take the perfect selfie, Caitlin is helping others. With the support of her family, Caitlin has created a charity called Sparkle Power. The name is significant because “sparkle” represents goodies that brighten a patient’s day and “power” represents the power of a positive attitude to help a patient recover faster. Through Sparkle Power, Caitlin brings joy to children that find themselves hospitalized for extended periods of time by bringing them ‘care packages’, that she simply calls Sparkle Power Boxes. A Sparkle Power Box consists of items to banish hospital room boredom and includes things like coloring books, crayons and even socks for cold hospital rooms. Her inspiration for the boxes came from little things she received while in the hospital. She recalls, “When I would get a small gift, like Chapstick, a personal comfort item, or something small like we have in the Sparkle Power goodie bags, it really brightens your day.”
Caitlin’s mom, Brooke Shannon, is in awe of her daughter’s level of philanthropy. When asked about Caitlin’s inspiration to create Sparkle Power, Brooke said, “It really touched her heart when she saw other children alone, bored or really not having anything to get them through the day and she had her siblings and my husband and I to visit and bring little goodies, but she noticed that some of the other children in the hospital would be lonely and sad. She thought maybe, once I’m feeling better, she could do something to help brighten these kids’ days and maybe that would help them recover a little faster. That’s what prompted her to come up with her charity. Now that she’s feeling better, she wants to give back to her community.”
One look at this amazing young lady’s charity Instagram account, @sparklepoweroffical, and even the coldest heart will begin to melt. Viewers are met with the smiling faces of children that Caitlin has helped and the stories of hope and courage that each child possesses. It is clear to see that Caitlin has a huge heart and cares deeply for each and every child she helps. Since security protocols at some hospitals make it difficult to deliver the packages directly to patients, Ronald McDonald House charities seemed like the perfect way to get the care packages in the hands of the families. Ronald McDonald House provides no cost housing to families with children that are long term or frequent patients at nearby hospitals.
Moved by Caitlin’s dedication to helping others, a corporate conference company called IQPC Exchange took notice of Sparkle Power. While its parent company, IQPC, is a worldwide business, IQPC Exchange itself only has two offices in the United States, including New York and one here in Tampa. The company plans and hosts multiple nationwide conferences for executives and thought leaders from Fortune 1000 companies.
IQPC Exchange has now joined forces with Sparkle Power to help children and their families with extended hospital stays. To take it a step further, IQPC Exchange has expanded the care packages to include items for not only the patients, but for the families as well. Items include non-perishable food items, toys for siblings, toiletries and more. IQPC Exchange has placed Jessica Yeshaiek in a lead position of the efforts and she could not be more thrilled. Jessica’s college sorority was heavily involved with RMH and she’s ecstatic to be involved with such an incredible mix of caring organizations. IQPC Exchange has also begun bringing the items to the conferences and getting the attending executives onboard with participating in creating the packages to give to the families. One of the attendees tweeted a photo of the packages and said how much he loved being a part of the ‘social responsibility’.
On IQPC Exchange’s involvement Yeshaiek said, “It is really heartwarming for us to have a chance to give back to the Tampa Bay community. We are proud to be part of an initiative to support Sparkle Power and Ronald McDonald House by assembling the Sparkle Power goodie bags at IQPC events around the country, then delivering them to The Ronald McDonald House to give to deserving families.”
With IQPC Exchange’s help, Caitlin and Sparkle Power are able to reach more families in need. Sparkle Power is incorporated and has filed its application to be recognized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit company. If you are interested in interviewing Caitlin or IQPC Exchange, please join us when we deliver the next set of care packages to RMH. The drop off is scheduled to occur on Friday, October 9th.
If you would like more information on Sparkle Power, IQPC Exchange or ways to get involved please contact Kristen Schipfer via phone: 813-658-2584 or email: Kristen.Schipfer@iqpc.com