Part of my new job as the director of marketing for South Central Kansas Medical Center involves planning certain events. My very first assignment in that category was an open house at our clinic in Winfield, which is about eight or nine miles from the hospital. Winfield Medical Arts operates as a subsidiary of SCKMC.
In the second week of January, I had to pick a date, “a Tuesday or Thursday in the second full week of February.” After some preliminary discussion, I chose February 12th. I confessed some apprehension about the weather; it could be sixty-five and sunny or it could be twenty with a blizzard. I began praying for something closer to sixty-five and sunny.
In hopes of drawing out families with children, I scheduled two big inflatable play attractions. One was a twenty-five foot square bouncy house with a zoo animal theme for small children. The other was a twelve-by-forty obstacle challenge for older kids and adults. Outdoor play areas in the middle of winter? Boy, Doc, you really have a knack for this thing, don’t you? No, just desperate, I guess.
For the kids with families and for the less actively inclined, I asked our food service director, Christine, to prep bratwursts and hot dogs. How many people? Gee, I have no idea… let’s shoot for a hundred.
In the intervening weeks, I printed up flyers and delivered them to day care centers and pre-schools in the area. Posted announcements on Facebook. Scattered flyers around the hospital. Bought newspaper ads. Delivered flyers to the local health departments. Sent out letters. Took flyers to our clinics. And continued praying for good weather.
So far, February has been a more wintry month than January. Below freezing for several days. Freezing rain, freezing drizzle, freezing fog, freezing sleet and freezing feet. Wind up to forty miles-an-hour at times. Day after day after day of gloomy gray, mist and fog. Including Sunday and Monday. Yesterday, though, it was sunny all day. Up to fifty-two degrees and the breeze yesterday afternoon and early evening held to about three to eight miles-an-hour. And people showed up…
The kids acted like they hadn’t been able to play outside for a month or more. The little ones bounced like Tigger in the animal kingdom inflatable. The five-to-twelve-year-olds romped through the obstacle course. They laughed and yelled and challenged one another. Some of the tiny ones struggled to climb up the hump to slide down the other side. Siblings and others pitched in and helped out. They all seemed to have a great time.
There is something nourishing about the sound and sight of people enjoying themselves in an innocent manner, no matter what their age. The smiles, the laughter, the loud voices, the bouncing and running. It’s good medicine, even if you’re just a spectator. If you happen to be the host, it’s especially satisfying to watch kids having so much fun conquering obstacles together.
I’m guessing God loves that stuff, too.