Halloween treats for patients at Peoria’s OSF Children’s Hospital

Anadia Maclin, 10, gives a pooch  a pet at the OSF Saint Francis Children’s Hospital doggie Parade on Oct. 30. Maclin earned a $500 scholarship through the alpha kappa alpha sorority organization, then donate it for scholarship to the Children’s Hospital. (Photo by Holly Eaton/for Chronicle Media)

People love dogs for many reasons, especially their ability to comfort the sick. On Oct. 30, a crew of around a dozen costumed Paws 4 Healing therapy dogs paraded about OSF St. Francis Children’s Hospital to give patients some Halloween joy.

Tillie, a Nova Scotia Retriever, was dressed as a dragon. Willow, a rescued Beagle Terrier, was dressed as a court jester. Doctor Tully, an Airedoodle, wore a white coat and stethoscope. Most of dogs have served as therapy dogs for much of their lives.

Paws 4 Therapy program is an animal-assisted therapy program offered through OSF Healthcare to treat the emotional and physical needs of patients with highly trained animals and handlers. Owners visit upon the hospital’s request, and “bring comfort to patients, reduce stress, anxiety, pain, blood pressure, while increasing patient social interaction.”

All sorts of breeds visit the hospital. Tillie is just a little red long-haired pooch that is very responsive to her owner Kelsey Platt’s commands. Eli is a well-groomed standard Poodle, hypoallergenic, elegant and calm.

The therapy dogs quietly pranced the halls, visiting with patients, family members and staff who stood in doorways for a chance to pet them. The dogs were not the only attraction.

Members of the volunteer clubs, the 501st, Rebel Legion and Mandelorian Mercs were dressed in Star Wars regalia, spreading intergalactic cheer as well.

Willow, a Paws 4 Healing therapy dog, visits Karlee Higgens on Oct. 30. at the OSF Healthcare Children’s Hospital doggie parade. More than a dozen therapy dogs in costume paraded the floors of the hospital for its patients. (Photo by Holly Eaton/for Chronicle Media)

The costume clubs have been recognized Lucasfilm LTD for their standards of dress, and members follow a code of volunteerism. Club members are often seen at local benevolent events, such as the annual St. Jude Muddy Run.

Amidst the costumed dogs and Star Wars characters, OSF Children’s Hospital Special Visitors Coordinator Demetra Gaines introduced Anadia Maclin, who presented the hospital with a $500 donation.

Maclin, 10, is a Peoria Heights School student, who was awarded a $500 scholarship for completing the Nu Pi Omega Chapter Pink Pearls AKAdemy. The Nu Pi Omega Chapter is governed by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Pink Pearls AKAdemy is a program that provides academic enrichment and life skills through mentoring and training. It is open to girls from grades 6-8, and teaches etiquette, cooking, communication and hygiene.

Each year, one participant is deemed Miss Pink and Green and is awarded a scholarship. Instead of banking the money, Maclin wanted to donate her scholarship to St. Jude.

“Anadia wanted to forgo the college scholarship,” said her mother, ShamRa Robinson Maclin. “She wanted to do something for good for the community.”

“Hulk Oliver” was dressed for the Halloween doggie show while he visited his little brother at OSF Saint Francis Children’s Hospital on Oct. 30. (Photo by Holly Eaton/for Chronicle Media)

Maclin wore a tiara and her Miss Pink and Green sash as she presented a poster-sized replica check to the hospital.

“We’re just so proud of her,” Maclin’s grandmother, Kathy Robinson said. “She did not have to donate her scholarship, but it’s something she knew she really wanted to do.”