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Rookies bring Halloween fun to children's hospital

ANDREW-THOMAS

Wearing fancy, funky hats, the New York Giants rookies brought early Halloween fun to patients at Joseph M. Sanzari Children's Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center. Instead of their annual in-person Halloween visit, rookies visited patients virtually due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Continuing their annual Halloween tradition, the New York Giants rookies donned their Halloween best to virtually surprise patients and treat them with New York Giants memorabilia. Players worked closely with the medical center to reimagine this year's visit due to the importance of mask wearing and social distancing guidelines.

This year, patients and Giants players were set up with accounts on Caribu, a family video-calling app that integrates children's books and activities for an engaging experience between children and family members. The app bridges the miles to connect participants for reading, learning, and drawing experiences in real time. The hospital's use of the app comes at a time when positive COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the state of New Jersey.

"We are truly fortunate to have the New York Giants as our partners," said Judy Aschner, M.D., physician-in-chief, Joseph M. Sanzari Children's Hospital and Hackensack Meridian Children's Health. "Their annual Halloween visits bring smiles and excitement to our patients and their families each year. We are pleased to be able to continue this tradition virtually so that our patients can have this special experience with such compassionate and thoughtful sports heroes."

"Our long standing partnership with Hackensack Meridian Health is very special and our annual Rookie Halloween Party is one of the highlights of our community outreach," said Allison Stangeby, vice president of community and corporate relations, New York Football Giants.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed us to explore new and creative ways in which our patients can continue to enjoy the traditional events that occur every year, and technology has been the way to reimagine how we can bring joy to them," said Amy Glazer, executive director of development, Joseph M. Sanzari Children's Hospital and Tackle Kids Cancer. "Caribu's platform is incredibly engaging and we are so grateful to have the Giants as our partners – they have joined us in this quest for reimagination and we are thrilled that we are able to continue this exciting Halloween tradition for our patients this year."

"We are honored to partner with Hackensack Meridian Health to celebrate Halloween with the patients at Joseph M. Sanzari Children's Hospital," said Max Tuchman, co-founder and CEO, Caribu. "The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we communicate and celebrate with one another, and kids especially, are longing for normalcy and connection. While the hospital's Halloween celebration might look different this year, we are glad Caribu is helping maintain their longstanding tradition with the New York Giants, and hope it encourages patients to stay connected in a more fun, engaging, and educational way during this very difficult time."

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