DES MOINES, Iowa -- The presents have been wrapped and the ornaments have been hung with care on all the Christmas trees at the Iowa Events Center just in time for the Festival of Trees and Lights.
Each strand of lights and every detail was carefully placed on 84 different Christmas trees for the magical event. Many of the trees are dedicated to children struggling with cancer.
Decorator Stacy Bierman said one of the trees she decorated this year is Pokemon-themed for a young girl named Elayna, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2014 when she was just five years old.
“It’s just something so small that you can do to let the family know that you’re thinking of them. Our lives go on. We have our own kids and sporting events and all of that stuff and they are spending the time in the hospital. And they are trying to figure out the next cure that they can come up with to help with the cancer and different things like that. So it’s just something so small that we can do,” Beirman said.
The team spent several hours working on it over the weekend so it was ready for the gala happening Tuesday.
Tree sponsor Joleen Vento, with the Generations of Compassion Foundation, said she loves supporting this event because it is just one of the many ways to teach others about compassion and giving back.
“I think that the families are going through a really tough time. And they are trying to make it as normal as possible for their kids. And we are just glad, again, to be a part of it and hope that they enjoy it and can sit around and make good memories,” Vento said.
Elayna will see her special tree on Wednesday when the event opens up to the public.
Tickets are $5 and all of the proceeds go back to Blank Children’s Hospital to help kids like Elayna.
“This is a great event for the hospital and the community at large. All of the proceeds go back to Blank to support programs such as the Child Life Department. Our program is funded 100 percent on philanthropic dollars. So it’s very important and we do such great work in helping kids and families navigate the healthcare system,” Childlife Specialist Kathy O’Connor said.
Beirman and Vento said they are very excited to see Elayna’s face when she sees her tree for the first time.
"There’s just something so special about that moment,” Vento said.
Gala registration is closed, but there are plenty of tickets for the rest of the event.
Event runs Nov. 22 - 26:
- Wednesday, 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
- Thursday, 1 - 7 p.m.
- Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
- Sunday, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
For more information you can head over to the Festival of Trees and Lights website.